MKR winner shuns reality TV past
IT'S the cooking show that made Bella and Sammy Jakubiak household names.
But almost ten years on, the eldest of the Polish sisters says she wants nothing to do with the My Kitchen Rules (MKR) brand.
It's not the only big change for Bella, who spoke to News Corp after a busy lunch trade at The Australian National University's Kambri.
There's no stopping the 36-year-old, who as well as picking up the venue catering contract at the university, has also taken over the kitchen at the Gundaroo Colonial Inn - about 30 minutes north of Canberra.
It comes as Channel 7 prepares to air My Kitchen Rules All Stars, which will feature a some of the show's best, villainous and most controversial from previous seasons going head-to-head with newcomers.
Bella says she and her sister, who won Series Two of the show back in 2011, weren't approached for the spin-off, but the snub is not something that bothers her.
"We weren't approached, but that's probably because we're property of Channel 10 at the moment," she says of the network that picked up Sammy and Bella's Kitchen Rescue.
"But I don't want to be closely associated with the (My Kitchen Rules) brand and the chaos because the brand has changed so much. I don't want people to think that I'm a wild character because I'm not. I'm very boring, I'm utterly dull; I just cook all day.
"That's what I want to be like. That's my personal brand. I've stayed true to who I am but the brand of MKR has evolved."
She adds that My Kitchen Rules was less about food now and more about big personalities, which she also attributes to its ongoing success.
Bella says that she and her sister's series was one of her biggest achievements since they won $250,000 nine years ago.
"Kitchen Rescue was a concept that we came up with, we pitched the idea and we raised the money to make it happen. We produced it, cast it and wrote all the recipes," she says.
"I'm so proud because it aired for two seasons here in Australia and is now on Netflix internationally."
Despite their successes, life after filming their MKR season was challenging, with Bella previously telling News Corp about contractual obligations restraining how much they could promote themselves, and their financial struggle while waiting for their winnings to come through.
And though they might have looked like culinary masters at the end, they still had to start at the bottom.
"Working as a chef's apprentice and earning no money while trying to live in Sydney was really hard," she says.
"But I'm glad I did that because 15 minutes of fame on TV doesn't make you a professional chef."
She added being on the small screen meant ongoing challenges.
"You have people saying 'does it help you having been on TV?'. It doesn't help. It makes people more judgey," she says.
"Everyone holds you to higher standards and people are very ready to bring you down if they're not happy about something. Other chefs get cranky because they think the only thing I've done is be on TV for 15 minutes. They don't take the time to realise that I have actually been working as a professional chef for the last decade."
Despite a hiatus from being in front of the camera, Bella says she plans to do more media work in the future.
"Give me a couple of years to settle into motherhood and then I'll be back," she said after revealing in October last year that she was pregnant.
Sammy still runs the catering business in Sydney after Bella moved to Canberra for love, and tied the knot with former Married At First Sight contestant James Weber in 2017.
"I'm very blessed to be here," she says on life in the nation's capital. "There's people that care about each other and have a great sense of community spirit. It's the kind of stuff which doesn't really happen in big cities."
She said she and her sister went on My Kitchen Rules because they wanted to do something that honoured their grandmother, who had been a chef her entire life and was dying at the time.
But for anyone wanting to have a tilt at reality TV stardom, the veteran offers a warning.
"It eats your entire life. If you have a family and children, it's very difficult because you're going to neglect them for five months while they're filming," she says.
"They keep you up for 16 hours a day, seven days a week for five months, and you eventually crack."