After choosing to leave the competition in 2021 to focus on his mental health, Brent Draper returned this season more determined than ever to take home the illustrious title, and tonight, he was crowned the winner of MasterChef Australia 2023.
Tonight’s grand finale saw Brent and Rhiannon enter the MasterChef kitchen for the last time. The challenge ahead of them consisted of two rounds and the contestant with the most points at the end of the night would be crowned the winner.
In the first round, Brent and Rhiannon had to choose from one of three challenges set by each of the judges. Melissa’s was selected, leaving the contestants to cook “A Dish That Tells A Story”in just 75 minutes before each dish was scored out of 10.
Brent recreated the pork dish he made in his first cook of the season to tell the story of his growth. He cooked pork chop with tamarind glaze, roasted cabbage and salsa. He reflected on his journey and how he rebuilt himself from some of his darkest days. This whole season he was determined to show his young son, Alfie, that you can get past hard times.
Rhiannon channelled her beloved late mother, Sue and her growth during the competition. She cooked pork in her honour, opting for crispy pork belly, citrus caramel, fennel and orange salad with crispy shallots.
The tastings were filled with emotion. Jock could see the story on Brent’s plate and the evolution of the dish itself as well as the cook. He said the pork was blindingly perfect and Andy gave it a round of applause. Tasting Rhiannon’s dish, Andy noted that the pork hit the crispy brief, but he wished there was more of her delicious sauce to go with it. Melissa noted that the dish told a story of love and Jock confirmed that Rhiannon’s mum would be proud of the dish with its rustic, troppo charm. The judges revealed their round one scores, with Brent taking the lead on 29 points to Rhiannon’s 25.
Round two saw a pressure test like no other, set by culinary superstar and Dessert Masters‘ judge, Amaury Guichon, the most influential pâtissier in the world with over 50 million followers. Amaury revealed that Brent and Rhiannon had to recreate his beautiful pocket watch dessert. It was layers upon layers of intricate dessert elements topped with a glass-like sugar dome. From the bottom up, the pocket watch included a double chocolate chip cookie, a coffee hazelnut financier, a coffee and chocolate cremeux, a strong espresso coffee caramel and a chocolate mousse. On top was a shiny chocolate glaze and the final outer layer was a chocolate dip. Brent and Rhiannon had five hours and 45 minutes to complete the dish before the judges and Amaury scored it out of 10.
It was Brent’s first pressure test of the season and desserts were never his strength. His first blunder was a seized caramel that he was able to rectify. The sugar dome was a hurdle that Amaury warned contestants about, but Brent managed to create it on the first try. However, in order to attach it to the pocket watch, he had to smooth down the dome on a hot cast iron tray, knowing if left too long, it would warp and deflate, which was exactly what happened. With no back up, Brent soldiered on to remaining elements and with just two minutes left, he realised his bow and crown were upside down and he was able to quickly correct its position. He was emotional, but aside from the wonky dome, he was immensely proud of what he plated.
Rhiannon had two pressure tests under her belt but knew that desserts were not a strength of hers. She started off strong but an error with her mousse forced her to start the element again, which snowballed into rushing through remaining elements. With everything finally assembled, Rhiannon made the mistake of pouring her chocolate dip over her layered elements instead of the shiny glaze. She was flustered and worried this would affect the textures and throw her whole dish out, but Amaury guided her to push on and pour the glaze, then dip again. Her final hurdle came in the shape of the sugar dome. Her first one cracked, then she lost her second attempt mid-try. The pressure set in, as did the tears. After a pep talk from Jock, the smile returned to Rhiannon’s face, and she was back in the game. She returned to the sugar dome and finally nailed one, plating up with just seconds to spare.
Taking his dish to the judges, Brent was relieved and he reflected on his first season and that hard moment in his life. Amaury thought he did a great job, with flavours similar to his dish and textures quite close. Jock was immensely proud of Brent’s efforts and commended his dish. Melissa agreed and Andy complimented its careful construction as being a big part of its success.
Rhiannon’s dish was complimented for her excellent sugar dome. Upon tasting, Amaury noted that her textures were not what they should have been, because of her misstep with the glaze and dip elements. Her financier was well received and overall, her chocolate and coffee flavours were well-balanced. Jock complimented her chocolate work, her dome and flavours. Melissa was glad she pushed through her sugar work but admitted the dish lacked some of its joy given the textural issues.
Rhiannon scored a 27/40, giving her a total of 52 points. Brent scored 34/40 which took him to a total of 63 points, securing him the win and the title of MasterChef Australia 2023.
Brent was overwhelmed and reflected on the journey that had been. He acknowledged that MasterChef had changed his life and he was so proud of his efforts this season. He was awarded $250,000 and secured his name on the coveted trophy. Rhiannon’s immense efforts across the whole season were congratulated and she was awarded a runner up prize of $40,000, while Declan in third place was awarded $10,000 to pursue his food dreams.