The winner of MasterChef has been revealed after one contestant’s dish had a fatal flaw that nearly torpedoed their chances. WARNING: Spoilers.
WARNING: MasterChef spoilers below.
The winner of MasterChef season 14 was revealed in a nailbiting grand finale on Tuesday night, as two returning players went head-to-head for the $250,000 prize money.
Victorian chef Sarah Todd, who placed ninth on the sixth season of MasterChef, was up against series seven winner Billie McKay.
And in the end, Billie emerged victorious – beating out Sarah by just a couple of points, following an early stumble with the night’s first challenge.
It makes Billie the first person to win Australian MasterChef twice – and her win came on the same night as a strikingly similar result on the season finale of Australian Big Brother.
The finale took place over two rounds: In round one, Billie and Sarah had the luxury of choosing between a mystery box, a brief they must cook to or a cloche with one or two random ingredients that must feature in their dish.
Both chose the brief: To cook a dish that was both sweet and savoury.
Sarah made sticky chicken wingettes with glaze – a choice judge Jock Zonfrillo called “very brave” for a grand finale.
“What you have done is made them luxury,” he told her.
Andy Allen agreed, telling Sarah she’d “hit the brief,” while Melissa Leong was full of praise for the “very well-balanced plate of food.”
Billie went next, presenting her dish of cumin panna cotta with rosemary and rhubarb. But Jock had his first criticism as he tried to dish it up for the other judges: It hadn’t fully set.
“I am so disappointed for you,” said Melissa. “It’s the foundational aspect of this entire dish and it’s not set – that’s a really tough pill to swallow.”
Andy said the dish was “delicious – but it could be better with a set panna cotta.”
After the judging, Billie lamented her “major fail”, admitting she was “in a pretty bad place” as she entered round two.
No surprises, Sarah well outscored Billie for round one, earning a total of 26 to Billie’s 21 points.
The second and final round saw the judges introduce one of the biggest names in the food world, Heston Blumenthal, who gave Billie and Sarah five hours and 15 minutes to replicate his epic dish, taffety tart.
After a few mishaps from both contestants during the preparation process, it was time to face the judges.
Sarah went first – and Jock said her dish was ‘just as good’ as Heston’s. Melissa called it an “extraordinary effort” – but Andy pointed out a few flaws that could open the door for Billie to catch up.
And Billie did receive more positive feedback: Andy said her dish was on ‘another level of precision and finesse.”
“Everything is there, present and correct,” said Melissa, marvelling at how Billie had rallied from her earlier defeat. “My mind is blown.”
The judges awarded Sarah a combined 30 out of 40 points for the second round, bringing her total score to 56. But Billie just edged her out thanks to a perfect score from Melissa, earning 37 points to bring her total score to 58.
Meanwhile, judge Melissa Leong told Confidential this week that she was thrilled to see an all-female top two on the show again.
“It’s been a great story seeing these strong women reconfirm their place in the food world,” she said.
“We are seeing the hospitality industry evolve so much and these women are inspiring future generations.”
Meanwhile, third-placed contestant Daniel Lamble, a Northern Territory firefighter who was new to the show this season, said after his Monday elimination that he was honoured to have made the top three alongside two strong returning players.
“From my perspective, I looked at the other two, and they’re so incredible at what they do … I was a little bit in awe of them,” he told 10Play.
“I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t make it through because I accepted the fact that those two girls really deserve to be in the final.”
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