Thanks to Olga and Valeria’s no-nonsense attitudes – and run- ins with judge Manu Feildel and fellow contestants Sonya and Hadil – the competitive duo has certainly ruffled feathers this year on My Kitchen Rules.
However, New Idea can reveal there’s more to the story than meets the eye, with the Russian team claiming rivals Sonya and Hadil stirred up trouble to earn themselves more screen time.
‘Some people are really trying as much as they can to get air time and they just wouldn’t stop at anything,’ Olga tells. ‘I tried to pull them [Sonya and Hadil] up on that.’
The 33-year-old mum-of- one explains that after the incident where she called Hadil an ‘annoying little rabbit’ at Henry and Anna’s Instant Restaurant, she attempted to apologise off-camera.
‘After that incident, with the rabbit thing I came to her [Hadil],’ Olga says. ‘But unfortunately, I went to her off the camera and apologised, and she said: 'We’re fine.' And then the next Instant Restaurant, it went wild.’
Since last week, Jordanian Hadil has gone on to refer to Olga as ‘Olga the vulgar’, and Valeria reveals the Russians had no idea about the 30-year- old’s nickname.
‘We kind of found out about most of it behind the scenes after the Instant Restaurants,’ Valeria, 26, explains.
After meeting five years ago working at the Sydney Russian bakery Olga owned, Valeria says she has come to understand her strong-willed teammate.
‘Olga is a very straight- forward person,’ she says. ‘I’ve noticed that not a lot of people can take those kinds of comments in a healthy way, they always take it very personally – even when Olga is just saying a joke.’
As for any controversial comments Valeria has made herself, she will ‘probably still stand for everything I’ve said’.
‘There were times when I was too tired or sleepy when I would say things, but at the end of the day, it’s what I said, so I’m going to stand by it,’ she reasons.
What many viewers may not realise, is that there is more at stake for Olga than others.
The business consultant left behind her baby daughter, Pepper, who was just six months old, to compete on MKR – missing her only child’s first steps. ‘She grew up, she started walking,’ she reveals.
Olga says she owes everything to her mum and husband, who put their own lives on hold to look after Pepper while she took part.
‘I couldn’t have done it without my husband and my mum,’ she says.
‘My husband stayed with her for five months and that was pretty tough, because she got sick and then he got sick as well.
‘The first month it was just him and her, and then my mum actually quit her job. She was near retiring, but she decided to retire early so she could help out, so there’s a lot of investment in My Kitchen Rules.’
Despite travelling all over the country filming the show, Olga refused to stop supplying her daughter with breastmilk.
‘I pumped in other people’s bathrooms, so many weird places, all around Australia to get milk and bring it back to my baby,’ she says. ‘The guys on set were amazing. Producers were bringing milk back to Sydney for me.’
For the full story, and your all access pass to My Kitchen Rules, see this weeks issue of New Idea - out now!