Diana Chan is the winner of MasterChef Australia for 2017 after an epic battle with fellow finalist Ben Ungermann who she defeated by just one point, securing victory with a grand total of 90.
In round one, they battled in a mystery box challenge, with the option of choosing to cook from any mystery box experienced throughout this season. Ben elected the box selected by MasterChef Australia season eight winner Elena Duggan, while Diana selected Peter Gilmore’s box, which allowed her use of the garden.
Diana made abalone with Chinese broccoli and nasturgen leaf juice, while Ben opted to make lemon myrtle ice cream with smashed macadamia shortbread, charred cucumbers, roasted grapes and a goat’s cheese mousse.
Ben’s progress was hampered by a nasty, deep cut on his finger, which required medical attention twice. Although well received by the judges, his dish lacked enough of the mousse and Ben went into round two with 26 points on the board, versus Diana who scored a perfect 30 for her beautiful, flawless meal.
Round two saw Ben and Diana cook with no rules. With 75 minutes on the clock they could plate up any cuisine, in any style. Ben decided to stick with his strengths and prepared a coffee and cardamon ice cream with Dutch flavours, butternut three-ways and a spiced biscuit.
Keen to replicate her round one success, Diana deep fried prawns in oatmeal, serving them alongside vegetables and a creamy sauce. In the tasting, her dish was declared beautiful and clever while Ben’s was spectacular with a beautiful spice, scoring him 28 ahead of Diana with 27. Heading into round three, Ben was on 54 and Diana was on 57.
After an emotional reunion with family and partners, the finalists faced an epic final round pressure test, set by the “Queen of Chocolate”, Kirsten Tibballs. Kirsten presented her Trio of Fruits and the finalists had an incredible six hours on the clock to recreate the pear, mandarin and apple.
One of the biggest hurdles for both finalists was making the sugar crusted liquor ball to sit inside the apple. Ben was forced to re-do the crucial element three times and when Diana’s failed after setting, she also tried to re-do it but both were ultimately forced to abandon it. Ben also slipped, dropping his finished pear in the tempered chocolate, accidentally double coating it and leaving it thicker than it should be.
While Ben best replicated the dessert, scoring 35, Diana’s score of 33 gave her a grand total of 90, securing her a one point win over Ben and the title of MasterChef Australia for 2017.
Diana, 29, takes home the MasterChef Australia title and trophy, a cash prize of $250,000 to kick-start her food dream and a monthly column in Australia’s leading premium food magazine, Delicious.
Thankful to be sharing this moment with her family and fellow contestants, Diana said: “This experience is something money cannot buy and I cherish every second of it. I’m so incredibly grateful for the never-ending support and love that I have received throughout the competition from my family and friends. I would like to give special thanks to the judges. Gary, George, Matt and Shannon have been incredible mentors and are so nurturing. I cannot thank them enough.
“I have been inundated with some amazing opportunities and it’s time for me to take some time out and filter through them to make sure I pick the one that matches my goals. My ultimate goal is to open my fresh, casual restaurant serving wholesome food with fusion flavours. I have also had an incredible opportunity to boost tourism in my home country, Malaysia. I would also love to work with kids and teach them about the provenance of food.”
On behalf of the judges, George Calombaris said: “We are so proud of Diana and the way she has cooked this season. Her food has continually improved and her consistency, passion for flavours and commitment has been inspiring. She’s a seriously lovely person. We are thrilled with her victory and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.”
Runner-up Ben, 32, was awarded $40,000 courtesy of Canstar to help him achieve his food dream. Ben said: “I’m excited to continue my passion for food and I’ll keep working towards my Dutch restaurant, offering an updated take on traditional Dutch cuisine. Throughout the competition, I have also found a love for uniquely-flavoured ice cream and I hope to one day launch my own ice cream range.
“I wouldn’t change a moment of my MasterChef Australia experience and want to sincerely thank the judges for their advice, support and friendship.”