Gareth Whitton From Tarts Anon Is Crowned The First Ever Dessert Master.

Gareth Whitton From Tarts Anon Is Crowned The First Ever Dessert Master.

Tonight, Gareth Whitton was crowned the first ever winner of Dessert Masters, walking away with the inaugural title and a sweet, sweet $100,000. 

The night saw three finalists – Jess Liemantara, Gareth Whitton and Reynold Poernomo – battle it out in a two-course sweet service challenge, feeding 15 diners and the judges in four hours.   

Garethdecided to create harmonious flavours between his two courses by incorporating indigenous ingredients into both of his dishes. For course one, he made an elevated ‘Rhubarb Tart’ with lemon verbena and pepperberry. For his second course, Gareth created a ‘Wattleseed and Chocolate Mousse’ entremet. During the rush of the cook, he cut his finger which cost him precious time, but he rushed to catch up.  

Jessdecided to lead with a berry theme for her menu. For her first course she created ‘Not So Strawberries and Cream’, which featured a coconut sorbet, strawberry chiboust with a strawberry gel insert and balsamic strawberries. Worry struck when her chiboust texture wasn’t quite right, but she had no time to remake it. For her second course, Jess wanted to show how far she had come since her first appearance on MasterChef, recreating the ‘Pink Petal’ dish from season 12. The judges were concerned at her plan to prepare 50 petals for each dessert – 850 in total, but she was determined. Eventually, she resigned to scale each dish back to a more achievable 20 petals per plate. Upon plating her blackberry sorbet, Jess realised that she left it in the blast freezer for too long, putting its texture at risk.  

Reynold finally made it to a grand finale after coming so close in season 12. He decided to elevate two of his best desserts from his restaurant, KOI Experiential. His first course, ‘Floral’, featured a feijoa cremeaux, strawberries, jasmine gelato, with a delicate sugar flower and yuzu jelly on top, as well as two types of snow: elderflower sake and strawberry. For his second course, Reynold made ‘Milk and Honey’, including citrus crème fraiche in a honeycomb mould, and orange blossom gelato. Throughout the cook Reynold struggled to unmould his crème fraiche element without them breaking and settled on a batch with a thicker layer, compromising on his vision. 

At tasting, the theatre of Jess’ ‘Not So Strawberries and Cream’ was complimented, however Mel sensed a bit of haste in the plating. Amaury’s dish was missing the strawberry gel insert inside the chiboust, so while the coconut sorbet was refreshing, he did not have the same eating experience as Melissa. Jess’ ‘Pink Petal’ was stunning despite the reduced number of petals. For Amaury, the mousse was light, fruity and not overly sweet and he admired the chocolate cake, but noted the texture of the sorbet was a little grainy. Mel thought the dish delivered Jess the redemption she was seeking. Jess earned herself a strong 27/40 for her incredible effort.

Reynold’s ‘Floral’ was highly complimented. Mel and Amaury loved the look of his dish and thought the flavours were very clever, however Amaury noted that overall the dish was a bit too cold. Melissa loved Reynold’s ‘Milk and Honey’ dish, praising him for creating a beautifully fragrant dessert that was not overly sweet. Amaury unfortunately didn’t find the dessert to his liking as all the elements were frozen; noting he would have liked to see contrast in both temperature and texture. Reynold achieved an admirable 28/40 from the judges.

Gareth’s ‘Rhubarb Tart’ was what Amaury called his favourite type of dessert, and Mel referred to it as almost faultless, noting it was smart, solid cooking. In course two, Gareth’s ‘Wattleseed and Chocolate Mousse’ was instantly celebrated. Amaury could tell just how much work had gone into this dish. Mel agreed, noting that while his mix of flavours seemed odd, it just worked. Gareth was awarded an incredible 35/40, earning him the title of Australia’s first ever Dessert Master. 

Reflecting on the win, Gareth said: “I couldn’t be happier to have been asked to be involved in the very first Dessert Masters, and to come out the other side with the chocolates makes it that much sweeter. I always knew that I was somewhat of an underdog coming into this competition, however I knew that a few unique skills and years of tough restaurant work could be enough to shake things up. 

“The relationships that I have made in this competition will stay with me forever. I have forged some professional and personal connections that have made this experience one of the most enjoyable and constructive in my career, and the inspiration and friendship my fellow contestants and the judges provided, has motivated me in ways that words can’t describe.”


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