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Dessert Masters 2023 winner announced in nail-biting finale

Reynold Poernomo, Gareth Whitton and Jess Liemantara went head to head during Tuesday night’s episode.

After three weeks of sweet surprises, captivating creations and mouthwatering masterpieces, the first-ever winner of Dessert Masters has been announced.

Pastry chef Gareth Whitton walked away from Tuesday night’s episode with the inaugural title and $100,000 prize, beating out former MasterChef contestants Reynold Poernomo and Jess Liemantara.

Dessert Masters winner Gareth Whitton.
Pastry chef Gareth Whitton is the first-ever winner of Dessert Masters. Photo: Channel 10

“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,” he said following his win.

“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.”

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Gareth, who is the co-founder of the popular Melbourne pastry shop Tarts Anon, went on to say that the relationships he made in the 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,” he added.

Dessert Masters' Jess Liemantara, Gareth Whitton and Reynold Poernomo.
Gareth went up against former MasterChef contestants Jess Liemantara and Reynold Poernomo. Photo: Channel 10

The final challenge

Tuesday night’s grand finale saw the three finalists battle it out in a two-course service challenge where they had four hours to serve 17 dishes.

Reynold was thrilled to have made it to his first-ever finale after narrowly missing out in his two previous MasterChef seasons, and decided to elevate two of his best desserts from his restaurant KOI Experiential.

His first course was titled ‘Floral’ featuring a feijoa cremeaux, jasmine gelato, elderflower sake snow and strawberry snow, while his second course, ‘Milk and Honey’, included citrus crème fraiche in a honeycomb mould and orange blossom gelato. Both judges Melissa Leong and Amaury Guichon loved the look and flavour profile of both dishes, but Amaury didn’t like how cold the desserts were.

Jess’ ‘Not So Strawberries and Cream’ dessert was also praised by the judges, although an element was missing from Amaury’s dish. Melissa thought her second course, ‘Pink Petal’, redeemed Jess after her first attempt in season 12, however, Amaury criticised the consistency of the sorbet.

Meanwhile, Gareth was praised for his “smart, solid cooking” with both of his courses: a rhubarb tart with lemon verbena and pepperberry, and a wattleseed and chocolate mousse entremet.

He received a score of 35/40, beating Reynold’s 28 points and Jess’ 27 points to become the season one champion.

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