By MELISSA WALSH Photo: YANNI
Meeting down at a Mornington beach seemed the most fitting place to catch up with MKR’s Mitch and Laura Skvor, the dynamic cooking duo with a casual peninsula vibe. Sitting in a beach box chatting away, the siblings are the youngest contestants ever on My Kitchen Rules, with Mitch 21 and Laura just 19. However, fame has not rattled the brother and sister who talk candidly about their television culinary experience.
When did you decide to apply for MKR?
Mitch: It was a spur of the moment thing and it was mainly me. We used to watch the show all the time and one day I thought “Laura would love to do that”, and so applied. I thought it would be her and mum but it ended up being me instead.
Why did you put Laura forward for MKR?
Mitch: She has a massive culinary passion. And she’s a really good cook. Given the calibre of what she cooks at home, she deserves to show off her skills.
How did you feel being accepted for the show?
Laura: It was very mixed emotions – nervous and excited. It just kind of happened and so we decided to go with it. Because we were both studying we had to put that on hold for a while. (Mitch is training to be a paramedic, and Laura was doing her university degree in International studies.)
What is your style of cooking and how did you become such amazing cooks at such a young age?
Laura: We love cooking nose to tail food. We love that philosophy of the paddock to the plate, using the entire animal, no waste and just respecting our food. And if it’s at our front door we love to cook it. We love foraging and especially being on the peninsula and growing up in Somers, we would go spearfishing and foraging for mushrooms. When foraging for mushrooms it is very important to know your stuff and do research so you know what’s poisonous and what’s not.
Mitch: I am working on a farm so get a lot of fresh lamb and different meats. We just always loved cooking from the time we were young. We would help mum in the kitchen. Mum’s a good home cook, and taught us to get what we can seasonally and grow a lot of stuff. Dad doesn’t really like the whole nose to tail philosophy though. He’s like “why would you bother having offal if you can have steak?”
Why do you think you have already been so successful on the show?
Laura: We definitely are not afraid to push the boundaries with our style of cooking. We also use our imagination a lot to create dishes that are different. I think being young actually helps with that. Despite people not being that into nose to tail eating, we have been determined to stick to our cooking style and philosophy and show them that it can be something really special.
You seem to get on really well. How did you decide who is in charge in the kitchen?
Laura: I am the head chef even though Mitch is a bit older than me. I really got into watching food programs when I was little and would watch them religiously, learning how to cook different things and then practice in the kitchen.
Mitch: Laura definitely has the imagination to make things happen but I am good at the practical skills so I am happy to follow her instruction. It works really well for us.
What was it like doing your first instant restaurant?
Laura: It was stressful and fun at the same time. We had already hand-made all the decorations like the placemats and so had that ready to go. But what was crazy was how quick the time passed from going to buy the food to getting back and starting to cook.
Mitch: Plating up in front of Pete and Manu, you don’t realise how nervous you are just waiting to see what their reactions are going to be.
Laura: Yes and apart from leaving the jus on the stove, I was really happy with how everything went.
How has living on the Mornington Peninsula impacted your cooking style?
Mitch: Working on the farm and growing up with places to forage has a huge impact, so has the beach where I often do beach fishing for produce.
Laura: The produce is amazing on the peninsula, with our fabulous olives, wineries, cheese places, strawberry and cherry farms and great farmers markets. We are surrounded by the best produce to inspire us.
What other things do you like to do apart from cooking?
Mitch: I love water sports, surfing, fishing, skating and cricket. And I plan to finish my Paramedics degree and work as a paramedic.
Laura: I am not sure about going back to Uni. I am more interested in pursuing a career in food as it is my real passion. I also do martial arts and train in Zen Do Kai which is a karate-based one and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai. I fought once in the ring and am currently training to fight again.