Brent Owens wins MasterChef Australia 2014 title
BRENT Owens has been crowned Australia's sixth ever MasterChef.
The 24-year-old from Melton, Victoria took out the cooking show's title tonight after three tightly contested rounds against runner-up Laura Cassai, who at 19 is the youngest ever cook to reach MasterChef's grand final.
"It's an overwhelming emotion," Owens told APN.
"It's still a bit surreal at the moment. I just keep pinching myself to remind myself of what I've actually achieved."
The former skid-steer driver gained an early two-point lead after the first round, a mystery box challenge, but then fell one point behind when one element of his Chef's Table dish didn't work out.
"Nobody wants to play catch up," he said.
"You feel a lot better being in front."
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Owens has arguably won the most difficult series of MasterChef based on the level of talent and the difficulty of the challenges this year.
Tonight's final challenge, chef Peter Gilmore's Chocolate Ethereal dessert sums up how high the bar has been raised on the reality cooking show.
Gilmore said the dish was "at least twice as hard" as this Snow Egg dessert which featured in the season two grand final won by Adam Liaw.
"I had to keep reminding myself these challenges are achievable," Owens said.
"They wouldn't give us a challenge if we couldn't do it. I just had to keep focused."
Following Gilmore's 39-step recipe to the letter, Owens came back from behind to beat Cassai by three points.
Owens takes home the largest grand prize in the show's history: $250,000, a cookbook deal, work experience and a car.
"I was away for so long (filming the show) I missed the birth of my nephew, so I've been connecting with my family again and starting to plan my future," he said.
"Long term I'm looking at something in terms of a café and using that as my hub to sell pre-prepared meals.
"I want to cater for all parties, whether it be bodybuilders or people on strict diets like gluten free, dairy free and vegan. I think there's a huge gap there."
He's also ensuring long-time girlfriend Madison holds up her end of a bargain they struck when he auditioned for the show.
"Madi had to sit there and watch cooking shows every night all night (with me) so she knew where my heart was and she pushed me to apply," he said.
"We made a bet if I applied to MasterChef then she'd apply to (Australia's Next) Top Model."
As runner-up, Cassai takes home $20,000 and already has work lined up as junior chef with Jock Zonfrillo at Adelaide's Orana restaurant.
"I'm excited to watch her future unfold," Owens said.
"She's an amazing person, with a big heart and is an amazing cook. Her career's just beginning."
Grand final scores
Round 1 - Mystery Box
Round 2 - Family Chef's Table
Round 3 - Chocolate Ethereal Pressure Test