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Let the kitchen battle begin! Meet the new My Kitchen Rules NZ 2024 chefs

Meet the Kiwi cooks set to battle it out in the new season of MKR New Zealand

As the new season airs on our screens, meet the My Kitchen Rules NZ 2024 contestants.

Lee & Luke, Kaiapoi

My Kitchen Rules NZ 2024 contestants Lee and Luke

It’s long been Canterbury business owner Lee Barrington’s dream to be on MKR – together with her son Luke Wielsma, they’ve watched every season.

Kai is king for Lee, 51, who tells us, “I believe that food contains love and frequency. I put my heart and soul into my food, business and our customers. I hope that will be the right recipe to take us through to win the final – that’s if we don’t buckle under the pressure!”

Her lad Luke, 29, who has more than 115,000 followers on social media and once swam across the Cook Strait on his birthday, also admits, “Being sent home first is what I am most worried about.” But he’ll be stoked to meet Manu Feildel, his favourite celeb chef.

Mark & Andrea, Taupiri

My Kitchen Rules NZ 2024 contestants Mark and Andrea

Waikato schoolwear supplier Mark McConnell wanted to give MKR a shot to show his kids you can do anything you put your mind to – and he’s convinced family friend and fellow foodie Andrea Clark to help him out.

Mark, 49, names Al Brown as an inspiration, explaining, “I enjoy reading his cookbooks, and I like the way he dives and hunts to catch what he cooks. He’s pretty cool and has obviously done really well with his restaurants.”

Meanwhile, gym owner Andrea, 36, confesses, “While I love to cook, life is hectic and often my home-cooked family meals consist of an air fryer, supermarket chicken nuggets or jars of stir-in pasta sauce. Don’t mention that to Mark, though – it drives him crazy!”

Emma & Abbie, Hamilton

My Kitchen Rules NZ 2024 contestants Emma and Abbie

The eldest and youngest of five siblings, these women are obsessed with food – and each other. In the kitchen, they say that their strong sisterly bond will make them “a force to be reckoned with”.

“We’re both great communicators,” explains primary teacher Emma Driver, 36, “We tell each other everything and have no problem saying what needs to be said in any situation. We can bicker, but we also love and support each other unconditionally.”

Both girls share a love for Jamie Oliver. Abbie Broome, 26, says, “He brings back all those cosy memories of watching cooking shows with our parents when we were younger. His style is all about that comforting, home-cooked food, which is definitely right up our alley.”

Piki & Michael, King Country

My Kitchen Rules NZ 2024 contestants Piki and Michael

Raised together in Te Kūiti, these cousins are more like siblings and learnt to cook on the marae, which gave them a shared love of cooking and the manaakitanga (hospitality) of sharing food with visitors.

“I like to cook all types of cuisine – from Polynesian and Māori kai, to Italian, Asian fusion, French, Indo-European, Middle Eastern and English food,” says Piki Knap, 48. “It’s so hard to pick one!”

Having spent years living in South America, Jamie Oliver fan Michael Murray, 46, also has a global palate, but his secret weapon is “being a mighty kitchen ninja”.

He explains, “I possess a magnetic energy – agility, precision and an unassuming personality!”

Jax & Manz, Martinborough

My Kitchen Rules NZ 2024 contestants Jax and Manz

Friends for more than 20 years, these Wairarapa besties insist they’re not wannabe chefs – they’re great home cooks and so MKR is perfect for them!

“Manz and I have a very long, strong friendship, and work well under pressure,” says property manager Jackie “Jax” Steventon, 56.

“Our secret weapon is our positive and bubbly outlook on everything we do,” adds cheesemaker Amanda “Manz” Goodman, 48. “We love a new adventure and enjoy doing things together. We work well as a team and enjoy bouncing new ideas off each other.”

Jax is keen to put any prize money they win towards buying some miniature highland cattle, while Manz would love to develop her goat’s cheese company.

Emily & Nathan, Auckland

Contestants Emily and Nathan

Huge MKR fans, these siblings hope their Malaysian heritage and passion for food will see them score some 10s from judges Manu Feildel and Colin Fassnidge.

“My secret weapon is my palate, and my ability to stay cool, calm and collected under pressure,” says music teacher Emily Heeney, 36, who has already proven her strength by beating endometrial cancer. “It has shown me my resilience and made me even more hungry to chase my dreams because life is short.”

If they win the grand prize, former The Bachelorette and FBoy Island contestant Nathan Loo, 32, reveals they’ll splash the cash on a trip to Penang. “We’ll head back to spend time with the family that influenced our cooking – then we’ll take over the New Zealand food market with the best sauces you can imagine!”

MKR New Zealand premieres 7.30pm Tuesday on TVNZ 2.

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