Larissa Takchi has won the MasterChef Australia 2019 title, becoming the youngest ever winner at just 22 years of age.
The restaurant manager from New South Wales scored 85/90 after a tense 3 course service, defeating Tessa Boersma (77 points) and Simon Toohey (65 points).
She wins a cash prize of $250,000 a monthly column in Delicious magazine and a new Holden car.
The grand final was, however, overshadowed by the bombshell news of long-running judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris all severing ties with Network 10 just hours prior.
While network CEO Paul Anderson thanked them for their 11 seasons, he also revealed negotiations for 2020 had reached an impasse. It followed a week of headlines in which the network was urged to dump Calombaris over a staff salary scandal.
But it was all smiles on air, in the pre-recorded grand final, with the elite of chefs and former contestants dining to the three courses cooked by the grand finalists.
Larissa’s ‘Roasted Bone Marrow with Onion Soubise,’ ‘Marron with Fennel Puree and Bisque’, and a rescued ‘Szechuan Pavlova, Beetroot and Blackberry Sorbet’ delivered her the champion trophy, edging our her nearest competition, Tessa.
“MasterChef isn’t just a cooking show, it’s a lifestyle change,” she said. “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.”
Gary Mehigan said, “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.”
Tessa Boersma, 27, from Queensland, was awarded $30,000 and Simon Toohey, 32, from Victoria, was given $20,000.
Network 10 chief content officer, Beverley McGarvey said, “After 11 remarkable seasons, MasterChef Australia remains one of the most successful and loved shows on Australian television, a show that draws families together and resonates strongly across all age groups,” she said.
“Again this year, the series delivered strong television audience numbers for 10, including record video on-demand viewing.
“And Australians’ devotion to MasterChef Australia extends beyond the television screen. It was one of the noisiest shows on social media again this year, with high levels of engagement across all social media platforms, and it remains the most ‘liked’ entertainment show in Australia, with 1.67 million ‘likes’ on Facebook,” she said.
“We reached an average of 9.3 million people every week on Facebook, more than four times that of any previous season. Our How To Eat A Dumpling explainer video took Facebook by storm, reaching more than 55 million people worldwide and generating more than 27 million views.
“Congratulations to Larissa and to Tessa and Simon for an extraordinary grand finale. My thanks to all our contestants, our judges, mentors and guest chefs , our long term partners at Endemol Shine Australia 10’s executive producer Rick Maier, Endemol Shine Australia’s executive producer Marty Benson and everyone at 10 for creating a great series.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming a new generation of exceptional judges to a refreshed season 12 of MasterChef Australia. We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their remarkable contribution over the past 11 years,” she said.
“Australia is full of remarkable cooking talent and we can’t wait to introduce another group of ordinary Australians capable of extraordinary things for the love of food.”