Larissa Takchi has become the youngest winner in MasterChef Australia history, crowned victorious at just 22 years old with a huge score of 85/90 following the Grand Finale of the competition.
Larissa beat fellow competitors Tessa Boersma and Simon Toohey, taking home not only the MasterChef Australia title and trophy, but a cash prize of $250,000 to kick-start her food dream, a monthly column in Australia’s leading premium food magazine, Delicious, and a top of the range Holden Equinox.
Here are 10’s highlights from the final night – episode 61, 2019:
Thrilled to be sharing this moment with her family and fellow contestants, Restaurant Manager Larissa Takchi, 22, from New South Wales said: “MasterChef isn’t just a cooking show, it’s a lifestyle change. To think that I was just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life in a small town, and now when I look into the mirror, I almost can’t recognise myself.
“When I applied for MasterChef, never in a million years did I think I would grow so much. The Grand Finale was the biggest test in the competition so far, but with the support of my family, Shannon Bennett and the judges, I honestly feel like I could conquer anything. I’m so excited to see what lies ahead.”
On behalf of the judges, Gary Mehigan said Larissa was a deserved winner, showing determination, inventiveness and maturity. “She thinks differently to the other contestants, and she loves a laugh and has a great sense of humour.
“For somebody that was so young and predominantly focused on the sweet side of creativity, I expected her to falter towards the end of the competition. In fact, the penny dropped, and everything started to come together and she improved in leaps and bounds and put up some of the best dishes that we have seen in MasterChef.
“We are all convinced that she will do brilliantly well and can’t wait to see what she does next,” he added.
Coming in second place with a score of 77/90, Criminal Statistician Tessa Boersma, 27, from Queensland, was awarded $30,000 courtesy of Canstar to help achieve her food dream.
Tessa said: “MasterChef has been a life changing experience. I want to thank the judges for mentoring me and giving me the confidence to be able to cope under pressure, back myself and overall be able to produce food I could have only once imagined being able to produce.
“I want to thank my fellow contestants whom without I wouldn’t have been able to cope being away from my family and friends for so long.”
Cocktail Barman Simon Toohey, 32, from Victoria, landed in third place with a score of 65/90, securing $20,000 courtesy of Canstar.
Simon said: “What an experience that was. I never beyond my wildest dreams believed I would be on MasterChef, let alone make it all the way to the finals. MasterChef has allowed me to meet some of the most amazing chefs and cooks from around the world.
“Food has always been a passion of mine, not only to create delicious dishes but to use food as a catalyst to reach new heights in sustainability awareness, and strive for a positive change in Australian food culture.
“The judges are brilliant and inspiring people. They support everyone, and through this support, they teach. By the end of my time in the MasterChef kitchen I had learnt more than I ever dreamed I would. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Together Larissa, Tessa and Simon stood before this year’s eliminated contestants, and following an emotional reunion with their family and partners, were reminded that today for the first time ever, they would compete in a Grand Finale service challenge to claim victory.
The guest list was a who’s who of the MasterChef Australia family, comprising of some of the best chefs in the world including Curtis Stone, Kirsten Tibballs, Maggie Beer, Jock Zonfrillo, Darren Purchese and Donovan Cooke plus MasterChef royalty Julie Goodwin, Andy Allen, Brent Owens, Diana Chan and Sashi Cheliah.
Their mentors were also present – Matt Sinclair, Billie McKay and Poh Ling Yeow. And with the pressure ramped up, the judges had invited somebody very special to run today’s service, welcoming back former mentor and friend, Shannon Bennett.
For her entrée Tessa presented ‘Marron, Fennel, Caviar’, and the judges marvelled at her restraint and technical cooking. Simon’s ideology behind his ‘Roasted Beetroots and Beet Leaf Puree’ was commended, while Larissa’s ‘Roasted Bone Marrow with Onion Soubise’ was deemed genius and super sophisticated.
At the end of the course the judges revealed Tessa and Larissa both secured 27/30, while Simon was awarded 22/30.
For her main course, Larissa was confident in the flavours of her ‘Marron with Fennel Puree and Bisque’, and it was a winning dish, with Matt admitting it was generous in both flavour and texture. Tessa’s ‘Wagyu with Celeriac and Onions,’ was a stunning plate of food, while Simon’s ‘Lobster with Champagne Caviar Sauce’ was cooked beautifully, but lacked richness.
As the judges awarded 27/30 again to Tessa, 28/30 to Larissa and 21/30 to Simon, it was quickly becoming a two-horse race as the women of the competition prepared to battle it out in the dessert round.
Simon’s ‘Pumpkin Cake, Pumpkin Ice Cream and Earl Grey Tuile’ scored 22/30, bringing his total score to 65/90. And while Tessa’s ‘Lemon Meringue with Rosemary and Ginger’ was pretty, it was safe, securing her lowest score of the evening with 23/30, bringing her total score to 77/90. The decision left Larissa in prime position to take out the trophy, and she nailed her final course with her ‘Szechuan Pavlova, Beetroot and Blackberry Sorbet’ scoring a trio of perfect 10s, bringing her total to 85/90.
Larissa Takchi was awarded the title of MasterChef Australia for 2019.