Already a member of the illustrious winner’s circle, Billie McKay was thrilled to have re-written history as the first cook ever to win MasterChef Australia twice.
It was the final day for MasterChef Australia 2022, and Sarah and Billie were greeted by the judges, and warm applause from their fellow contestants on the gantry.
The grand finale challenge took place over two rounds. In the first round, Sarah and Billie had a choice between three classic MasterChef challenges; they were presented with a mystery box containing nine random ingredients, a brief which allowed an open pantry, an open garden, and a feature ingredient which sat underneath a cloche. Sarah and Billie both had the opportunity to remove one of the three challenges from contention, leaving them with the “brief challenge” which Melissa revealed was to cook a dish that was both sweet and savoury in 75 minutes.
Sarah was first up for tasting, and Jock said it was a brave move for her to make chicken wings, but what she had done made them luxury. The judges said you could taste clean, white, fresh chicken wing, and Sarah’s gravy was incredibly well balanced with beautiful pops of sweet and savoury. Andy said it was clear that Sarah had hit the brief, and Melissa agreed that there was refinement and consideration in every element.
After the judges scored Sarah’s dish, Billie brought her sweet and savoury dessert to the table. As Jock served the panna cotta, he could see it was not fully set and Billie was devastated. Melissa said she was disappointed that the panna cotta didn’t set, but praised Billie for her sound flavours, the honeycomb was the last element on the palate, and it was beautifully crunchy and perfectly balanced with cumin.
When the judges revealed the round one scores, Sarah received 9/10 from both Jock and Andy, and an 8/10 from Melissa, giving her a total score of 26/30. Billie was awarded 7/10 from each of the judges, giving her a total score of 21/30.
In the second round there were 40 points up for grabs, and it was a MasterChef Australia classic, the pressure test. The guest chef who set the challenge was a megastar and someone who thinks about food unlike anybody else. The top two and gantry were left in no surprise as Heston Blumenthal was welcomed to the MasterChef kitchen, having already set three MasterChef Australia grand finale pressure tests, the room knew his challenge would be epic.
Jock announced that as Billie had worked at The Fat Duck, the dish Heston had chosen was not from that restaurant, but instead one of his historical dishes from Dinner By Heston. Heston revealed his Taffety Tart and Sarah and Billie were amazed as they took a closer look, marvelling at the complex layers of apple compote, puff pastry, crumbs, fennel, fluid gel and crystalised flowers. Andy explained that they had five hours and 15 minutes to replicate Heston’s dish in flavour, texture and presentation.
It was time for the final tasting of the season, and first to present their Taffety Tart was Sarah. On appearance the judges said it was very impressive, but the ice cream was soft and melting as they served. The pastry was a little tougher than the original, but the texture and flavour of her fluid gel was as good as the original, and the crystalised rose petals were beautiful. Heston said Sarah had done a pretty impressive job, but the judges admitted that the dish wasn’t perfect.
Billie was next to the tasting room and she was hopeful that her efforts to redo both the pastry and crumble had been worth it. Heston was impressed by Billie’s dish, and Andy agreed there was another level of precision. As they sliced through, Melissa said it was like a hot knife through butter, and when they tasted, the judges’ praise was universal. Heston said there was a real finesse to what Billie had achieved, the ice cream texture was wonderful and he admired the distinct layers.
Sarah was first to receive her final scores, 7/10 from Andy and Heston, and 8/10 from Jock and Melissa, giving her a total of 30/40 for round two, and a grand total of 56/70. It meant Billie needed a near-perfect score in round two to win, and she was awarded 9/10 from Heston, Andy and Jock, and a staggering perfect score of 10/10 from Melissa, giving her a total of 37/40 and a grand total of 58/70.
Billie was crowned the winner of MasterChef Australia 2022, securing her name on the coveted trophy for a second time and pocketing $250,000. The judges also revealed that Sarah would be awarded $30,000 to help her with her culinary ambitions, and Daniel would walk away with $20,000 for reaching third place..