Dessert Masters 2023 has crowned its very first winner with Gareth Whitton beating out Reynold Poernomo and Jess Liemantara in the Grand Finale. And now he reveals, that he was more than just “the underdog”, competing to show Australia what he was really made of.
Speaking to Mediaweek after his win, the Tarts Anon founder revealed that a little bit of creative licensing branded him the one with a “point to prove”, but it was far from reality.
“There was no agenda, there was no point to prove,” he said. “I just wanted to show people that there’s more to me than that [being the Tart Guy or underdog]. And prove to them and just as much show them.”
Adding to this, the 36-year-old said: “I wanted to show you what I do and what that means. The underdog status was always going to come along with that. Was it a false humility? I don’t really think so. But there was definitely a semblance of a sense of ‘happy to be here and whatever happens happens’.”
Speaking of the edit, there was so much more we didn’t see — including Whitton’s charming and charismatic personality in its full capacity, or the fact that if benched with Andy Bowdy, chaos would ensue.
“We grew up in those sorts of kitchens where when it’s bad, it’s bad. But when it’s good, it’s the best,” he said. “We’d make fun of each other and throw shade. We loved it!”
The pressure of the Dessert Masters’ Kitchen
For Whitton, competing alongside the likes of Adriano Zumbo and Kirsten Tibballs, was a real, ahem, treat, given that he “admired” what they do; however, he completely understood why it was easy for them to be eliminated especially due to the pressures in the kitchen.
“I think a lot of people underestimate that pressure because they just say: ‘That’s cooking’,” he said of being in an intense environment. “And they say if you’re a good chef who understands flavour and has good techniques, that’s all you need to worry about. But systems, efficiency, the fluidity of your work, organisation, cleanliness, structure, all this sort of stuff makes a massive difference.
“And when you have time constraints, like those marginal gains and the smallest mistakes can send you home.”
What will Gareth do with the prize money?
For those who are OG Whitton fans — approx 2,000 people before his “exponential rise” to over 10k followers on Instagram overnight — they would have just seen pics of his dog and his prized possession (his bicycle) which is precisely where some of his money is being spent.
In addition to this, he’s also paying off his mortgage for an investment property, “upgrading a few things” on a family holiday and hoping to invest in the future of his burgeoning business so that he can invest in his family’s future.
And when asked if he was expanding Tarts Anon to anywhere else in Australia?
“There’s nothing in the pipeline yet,” he said. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
Stream Dessert Masters on 10Play now.