It wasn’t only the new batch of contestants who have been charmed by Nigella Lawson’s appearance on the new-look My Kitchen Rules.
Viewers have flocked to social media to dub her the “viral ingredient” on the reality cooking show after her first appearance on Sunday night.
After the exit of long-term judge Pete Evans, whose reputation took a tumble thanks to his pedalling of anti-vaxer conspiracy theories on social media, Manu Feildel has been paired with the British domestic goddess.
Their first episode saw them head to Victoria to taste the dishes of the father-daughter duo Peter and Alice and Lawson was clearly the star of the show, with the contestants even joking about giving her used cutlery to their family as gifts!
But when things fell apart in the kitchen, viewers were warmed to Lawson who offered encouraging words.
“Nigella is the vital ingredient this show has been missing,” Twitter user Archie Banez wrote.
“Not only is she a bona fide food-lover & relatable to all us home cooks but it’s her personable nature, positive energy, insightfulness & unique way with words that makes her so endearing.”
Viewers also remarked on Lawson’s warm demeanour, while others said her presence encouraged them to tune in after not watching the show for years.
And she even won over the critics.
TV Writer Colin Vickery described Lawson as a “hoot” and “funnier and cheekier than on MasterChef”.
During the episode, Lawson showed her down-to-Earth side, ditching the cutlery to chomp at a lamb cutlet.
And while Peter and Alice’s home restaurant faced plenty of hurdles, and even a watery dessert fail, Lawson still tried to keep spirits high.
On Tuesday, she took to Twitter this morning to reply to some of the comments, saying that she was gutted for Peter and Alice, who had a tough night in the kitchen.
“I was heartbroken for them. And hated the idea they would feel ashamed in any way. We’ve all messed up in the kitchen – and beyond! – and none of us wants to be judged on our worst moments. And those lamb chops were divine!,” she wrote.
After a two-year hiatus, the return of MKR attracted 502,000 viewers around the country.
Channel Seven has been focusing on bringing the series back to its home cooking roots after it took a back seat to manufactured drama in previous seasons, previously saying this season would be about “real food and real people”, and audiences seem to be embracing the change.