Back in the kindergarten days of The Spinoff, Alex Casey recapped the entire series of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand. In this week of 2014 highlights, she sees her journey through with a bizarre IRL visit to The Corporate Dads’ Charity Dinner Party. ///
I met the “Corporate Dads” Josh and Aaron at the TVNZ 2015 launch. They were both warm, affable and said that they had enjoyed my MKRNZ recaps – mostly. They got talking about their plans for next year, to take over the butter industry, the TV industry and eventually the world. And they invited me to stop by a charity dinner they were hosting at their instant restaurant the Two Fat Cats boardroom to raise money for child cancer.
Obviously, I was in. Months of constant delusional writing about a cooking show that has almost no relevance to my lifestyle or demographic had made this the ideal end point on an enjoyable but ultimately pointless journey.
A few weeks later, I found myself endlessly winding past the confusing cul de sacs of the North Shore. I recognised the giant yellow house that had seen such great moments as the Ian and Aaron slow jam session and the largest meat serving in television history.
Heading up the driveway, I was greeted with a car emblazoned in mens fertility slang: “trying to conceive? Give 2014 your best shot with Vitamenz”. There was no mistaking Corporate Aaron’s powerful vitamin empire vehicle. My head had officially been sucked through the television, only to be delivered at the other end to a moderate mansion in Mairangi Bay. “You have reached your destination” my phone said reflectively. I really, really had.
Bypassing the famous video doorbell, rendered useless by the glass panels at either side of the door, I arrived as the kitchen was in full swing. Heather (from Aaron and Heather, who were also cooking on the night) and Corporate Josh were prepping up a storm as a small group of us bystanders looked on.
The ingredients of the evening were all donated by Nosh Constellation Drive. I know this because Josh was wearing a Nosh Constellation Drive cap and the owner of Nosh Constellation Drive was hovering nearby. “My middle name is Nosh: Constellation Drive” he joked.
Here’s another hot scoop from the good people at Nosh: Constellation Drive – all of the meat that the Corporate Dads used was bought from Nosh: Constellation Drive under the guise of being Countdown meat. The representative from Nosh Constellation Drive said that it was hard for him to sit at home as the judges said “this is the best sirloin I’ve ever eaten” under the misapprehension that it was from Countdown, not Nosh: Constellation Drive.
I swore to him that I would make this plight known to the world. If there’s one place in the world that needs defending right now, it’s Nosh: Constellation Drive.
Heather was just as charming in real life as she was on the show. Feigning ignorance, despite being in clearly one of the most skilled teams on MKRNZ, she mixed some gelatin into some pureed strawberries. “I’m doing a strawberry jelly, but I have no idea what I’m doing.”
She definitely knew what she doing. The impromptu jelly would eventually garnish her Boca Loca, a now-infamous dish in the MKRNZ circles for scoring a perfect 10 and inspiring many borderline racist pronunciations/tribal dance-style movements. Heather even told me that she gets “BOCA LOCA” shouted at her on the street, which I find incredibly weird.
Their other halves arrived home after a quick last minute trip to the exquisite mecca of Nosh: Constellation Drive. Corporate Aaron filled the room with a giant ball of energy and charisma, immediately smashing open a beer and welcoming his guests warmly. Aaron from Aaron and Heather made an equally cool entrance, wearing a giant Breakers singlet, sunglasses and a flat/potentially empty backpack as he balanced a huge tray of pork belly in one hand. He went to pop it in the oven, which I realised was the same infamous self-cleaning oven that gave the Corporate Dads so many problems in the early rounds. I never thought I would be starstruck by an oven, but here we are.
I asked the Corporates if the oven was sorted yet. “The ovens were always sorted,” Corporate Josh spat defensively. Corporate Aaron leant over to taste the paua puree Josh was making. I would just like to point out that I am calling 89% of things puree here, it’s a lot harder to know the difference between gourmet sludges without the handy MKRNZ infographics floating around. “That gave me a hard on brother,” Aaron said, as the children in the room looked up at their parents expectantly for an explanation.
The Corporate Dads themselves are a rare treat for New Zealand TV, capitalising on the potential of the reality TV format to build themselves a recognisable brand (Two Fat Cats) and launching their flagship product onto the shelves of the finest supermarkets across the country (debuting unsurprisingly at Nosh: Constellation Drive). I’m talking, of course, about their signature Two Fat Cats butter that they seemed to use on almost every MKRNZ dish.
Remember how Snooki wore her slippers everywhere on Jersey Shore, now runs a successful slipper empire and is probably a billionaire? The Corporate Dad’s have clearly gone to the Snooki Academy of Business and Reality Television. The fancy butter is product integration at its finest, a prime example of commerce and entertainment colliding upon a glorious sirloin steak bought from Nosh: Constellation Drive.
“Our butter rolls out in February,” said Aaron, beaming proudly and presenting me what looked like a pile of marge with chopped up capsicum in it. I’m sure it’s actually delicious – those discerning folks at Nosh: Constellation Drive don’t just pick up any old trash butter.
That’s not the only thing fresh out of the Corporate Dad’s MKRNZ frying pan. They are currently in talks with TVNZ to film their own cooking show next year. Catching the Menu will fuse the Corporate Dads love for hunting, fishing, cooking and being on the telly.
“The tagline is your best boat is your best mate’s boat,” Corporate Josh said whilst washing the dishes. I have no idea what that means, but it’s a hell of a tagline that is sure to float with the Outdoors with Jeff demo just fine. “It’s going to be real good, all kiwi bloke stuff,” Aaron explained.
They are hoping to travel the length of New Zealand, visiting their fellow MKRNZ contestants along the way. If their onscreen presence thus far is anything to go by, it’s going to be excellent viewing. I hope they stop by Steve’s place around scallop season to compare spreadsheet predictions (little niche MKRNZ joke for my Dad there).
Before the guests arrived, I wanted to slip into the Boardroom to check out the décor. They had managed to recreate the Two Fat Cats restaurant in it’s entirety, down to jibey Wall St Journal menus. But something had changed. Staring at the wall I realised the room was missing the giant oversized stag head that once filled almost the entirety of the wall and loomed over Josh like some scary stag overlord. Maybe MKRNZ cameo-star and business partner Geoff Ross had been hiding inside. I wouldn’t be surprised. They had replaced it with a mini wrought-iron stag head, which was also probably provided by Nosh: Constellation Drive. I applauded their commitment to stag head continuity.
Suddenly, there was a flurry of knocks and electronic doorbells and my blissful alone time in a reality TV wonderland was interrupted. The fancy guests were arriving, and I was caught in the middle of the room like a stupid stag in the headlights.
Panicking and slipping through a side door like a full on home invader, I peered into the Boardroom from the darkness as the guests sat down. Through the frosted glass I had a giant moment of clarity – my whole affiliation with MKRNZ had gotten way out of hand. It had gone from a mild enjoyment to a mechanised obsession to a bit of an empty chore hinging on some bizarre notion to “see it through”.
Hiding silently in a stranger’s hallway, peeping through at more strangers about to eat dinner, there was no way things could have gotten weirder for me in that moment. This wasn’t the telly anymore, this was real life. Weighed down by the enormity of the situation, I slunk down the secret hallway. Luckily the back door was still open, and I left the Corporate Mansion without looking back.
I didn’t see the courses come out. I didn’t see the judging and I didn’t see the scores of the dinner that night. And I’m okay with that. Rest assured this won’t be the last you see of the Corporate Dads, but I’m hoping it’s the last they see of me.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.