Victorian sisters Carly and Emily Cheung just missed out on a place in the My Kitchen Rules grand final when they were eliminated by good friends Nic and Rocco in the semi-final last night. Their Persian-inspired menu of Dukkah crusted scallops, duck confit with duck neck sausage and Persian love cakes was a hit with the judges but not enough to get them through. We spoke to younger sister Emily this morning to get the low-down on Carly and Rocco’s relationship, how she felt about the editing, and how her career gave her a slight advantage on the show.
What was it like cooking against the boys in the semi?
For us it was a tricky one to go into. We cooked against Peter and Gary when we were up for elimination earlier in the series, and it was much easier to go in with that fighting spirit and cook our best, whereas with Nic and Rocco it was harder to put it out of our minds that we were cooking against friends. We are very competitive people but I didn’t realise how hard it would be. We certainly gave it our all and cooked as well as we could. It’s funny because the outcome affected both our cooking abilities. The other semi-final was a good eight points above both of our scores. The whole ‘good friends’ thing is so much more important to you when you are in such a competition because you’re in this entertainment bubble, and there’s so much cattiness, everyone wants to win $250,000. To have friends in the competition is a huge deal, and for us it was really important. We went on the show to have a great time and make friends, and enjoy the experience.
More from Emily on Carly and Rocco and show editing when you keep reading.
Was losing by one point not as hard because you were good friends?
Definitely. Some people have said, “Wouldn’t you have preferred to have lost by a huge margin?” and we said, “No way. Absolutely not.” We were stoked to have done so well and to have only lost by a point. Of course we wanted the win, but there’s no better team to lose to than two brilliant cooks you admire and respect in the kitchen, as well as outside the kitchen. We do believe they’re the best cooks in the competition, so losing to them there’s no shame. We both did a great job.
You’re aware that there’s a lot of interest in Carly and Rocco’s relationship. I heard you and Nic didn’t find out for a long time. Were you upset she didn’t tell you?
That wasn’t a problem at all. I totally understand why she didn’t tell me because I probably would’ve said, “It’s gonna take up too much time. Are you focussing? Are you serious?” I don’t mind. It didn’t offend me that she didn’t tell me, and I don’t think it offended Nic either. When she did tell me I was really surprised because I thought they were just great mates. They get along so well; they’re both really intelligent people and they’re both very competitive. They’re very similar. They had such a great friendship, and I believe an amazing friendship is the most important thing to start a relationship. Good luck to them!
A magazine recently had them declaring they were in love, which is quite a bold statement.
You know what? That was inaccurate reporting. When both Carly and Rocco saw that, it was definitely something that made them go, “What! We didn’t even say that.” I know that they declined to comment on anything about the L-word. When that’s what was printed and ran in two magazines, it was disappointing because it’s inaccurate reporting. The thing that disappoints me is that it’s such a personal situation, and it’s a real invasion of privacy. The L-word in any new relationship is such a big deal. It applies more pressure on them and I think it was grossly unfair to do that to them, and put them in that position.
As a music publicist you know how the media works, so what has it been like for you to be on the other side?
[Laughs] It was really bizarre, and I still think it’s funny that I’m doing the interviews instead of coordinating them! It was great to have that insight about the industry and to understand how it all works, and I could share that with Carly. When we’re doing interviews I know that you can say, “No comment,” and the journalist has to respect that. No one can pull the wool over our eyes because I’ve been doing it for a good number of years now. And it helped us with the filming of the TV show as well because we weren’t afraid to question things and speak up. It’s probably who Carly and I are, anyway. With that knowledge of the industry it gave me more confidence to say, “I’m not going to show that,” or whatever.
Editing has been a huge thing this series, even last night with a lot of emphasis on Carly and Rocco. How do you feel about the way you’ve been edited and portrayed?
I’m fine with it. I think they’ve really portrayed Carly and I [properly] — what you see is what you get. The part that disappoints me is that Peter and Gary have been spreading lies about us since the show’s gone to air. We are who we are, and I’ve heard little bits and pieces from friends in the industry. Matt and Jo from Fox FM, they really drilled the boys — they were calling us cheaters and liars, and Jo said, “Why don’t you like them? What’s your problem?” and Peter just said, “I can’t go into this. Their mother might be listening.” They can’t go into it but they’re happy to slag us off. Tell us the reasons why you dislike us, and then we’ll be able to deal with it. It’s funny because we’re half their age and they’re so childish in that they can’t deal with these problems, and we just want to sort it out. We didn’t know what we did . . . I think now it’s evident to all Australians that the reason they have such pure hatred for us is because we did take away their chance at $250,000. It was probably hard for them to swallow. We had a dignified silence for a very long time, and when we kept on hearing them talk about us it was really upsetting . . . It got so catty. We thought it was a cooking competition and evidently it seems like it’s become more like Big Brother, in my opinion. I never thought our integrity would be questioned by two professionals from Queensland. The other thing is, a lot of people don’t realise that Carly is a practising vet, and no one’s aware that we’re both working professionals. It’s disappointing because we are intelligent girls, and I feel Peter and Gary have been able to get away with a lot more because they haven’t necessarily shown that we have careers outside the show as well. Maybe from the outset we come across as giggly, smiley, happy girls. Fortunately we weren’t hit by [the editing] as much as Thomas was. He’s a great person and I’ll stand by him . . . The show is rating so well because of the brilliant editing they have done. I completely see it from Channel Seven’s side as well. It is what it is because it had to be like that, and it’s working.
I also saw on another magazine that you’re also engaged — congrats! How surprised are you by the emphasis on your love lives?
It makes me laugh. I’m like, ‘Really? The cover? I’m just me!’ And my own friends were like, “Why have they made it look like you’re getting engaged to Manu?”
Last night you said you grew a lot during the competition. Have you changed?
We didn’t really change. We improved our pace in the competition. Previously if Carly and I ever had dinner parties we never had time constraints, so we never knew how hard and fast we could push ourselves. Obviously with the show we know if someone gives us 30 minutes we can produce something pretty good! We definitely have a broader knowledge of flavours after eating creations from a lot of other foodies.
What’s the plan now?
Carly plans to open up her own vet clinic with a cafe attached. If a consult’s running late she can send the client to the cafe where they can have some coffee and cake, and there will be some dog treats that are baked on premises as well. That was the plan from before she went on the show. I’ve started my own PR company called On the Map PR, so I’m just specialising in music and restaurant publicity.
I usually ask people who they want to win, but I’m pretty sure I know your answer!
Definitely Nic and Rocco, that’s no secret. We haven’t been shy to tell people that because we do think they’re the best in the competition. They cook so well, and they cook from the heart. We’re really barracking for them tonight.