Diet Nutrition

MKR winner Eden McPhillips reveals her dark battle with food

Father and daughter duo Liam and Eden believe their fun and relaxed attitude in the MKR kitchen helped them win the contest. But a mere few years ago, life wasn't so rosy for Eden.

By Ellen Mackenzie

Weighing a shocking 49kg, Eden McPhillips was in the grip of a terrifying eating disorder three years ago. But fast-forward to 2018 and the Hamilton beauty is happier and healthier than ever after being crowned the winner of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand alongside her dad Liam.

"It's pretty unreal," smiles the 22-year-old cook. "I went through some dark stuff, so thinking back to then and how my life has transformed, I never would have imagined it."

Eden still loves to work out and eat healthily – she even works full-time as a vegan baker – but now at 69kg, she doesn't let food and diets rule her world any more.

"It's given me a new outlook on life and I appreciate food more than I ever have, so it is pretty cool that I'm able to say I went from that to winning MKR," she explains.

No-one could be prouder of her journey than her father Liam, 46, and despite the fact that the dynamic duo are heading home with $100,000 of prize money, he hasn't even thought about the cash.

"I'm just super-proud of my daughter, really," he tells. "It's a massive proud-dad moment. We spent some really good time together on this show and when your kids get a bit older, you don't get that very often. I wouldn't trade it for anything."

For Liam, a huge highlight of the contest was seeing his girl score a 10 from the judges for her tasty vegan dessert in the instant-restaurant challenge.

"In that moment, I had already won – I was ready to pack up and go home!" he says, proudly throwing an arm around Eden's shoulder.

Back when Eden rang her father to say she had entered the pair for MKR, he didn't have much of a choice. Laughing, he recalls, "She had already done the application, so I just decided to put my best foot forward for my daughter."

With a cheeky smile, Eden adds, "He was just trying to keep me happy and go along with it, and then look where we are now!"

But one person who wasn't too happy about them signing up for the show was Eden's mum Rachel.

Eden confesses, "She originally asked me to do it with her and I said no because I didn't think we'd be any good. But I knew that Dad was a great cook, so I applied, not thinking that we'd actually get on.

"She was livid when she found out, especially because dad is the ex-husband. But she came around and now she's famous in New Plymouth, where she lives, because of me!"

Although Liam and Eden started out as the underdogs in the competition, they came out on top at the end, and they credit their close bond and cool attitude to helping them along.

"We've always been outdoorsy together, going camping and fishing," says Eden. "We have heaps of fun and that's why I wanted to do the show with him because I knew if I did it with my mum, it would be just stressful.

"We also did pretty well compared to some of the other teams because they let the competition take hold of them, whereas we just wanted to have fun cooking."

When Woman's Day catches up with the pair a few days after the grand finale, they couldn't be happier, but they admit to feeling a little worse for wear.

"I'm very dusty still – there have been a lot of celebrations going on," grins Eden. Her father adds, "Yeah, I'll admit I had to take the next day off work after the finale."

Following a "summer of celebrating" that's still to come, Eden has plans to use her half of the winnings to open up her own vegan bakery or an online cake shop. "I definitely want to go out on my own next year, so I'm putting the money away for that. I'm being responsible and being an adult!"

Meanwhile, Liam is just happy to see his little girl shine, adding, "I've been offered one cooking job already in a restaurant, but I'm going to stick with plumbing and cooking at home."

read more from