The winner of MasterChef Australia 2020 has been crowned after a whirlwind finale.
Emilia Jackson, from Melbourne took out the top spot, taking home the trophy and $250,000, after battling it out with Laura Sharrad from South Australia for the coveted Back To Win title.
“What the hell just happened? I cannot believe this, I just cannot believe that I have won Masterchef Back To Win,” Emilia said in a winner’s video on Instagram.
Emilia also took to her Instagram account just after the news of her win was announced to thank everyone who has supported her along the way.
“Had you have told me that 6 years later I’d be standing here, having just done the entire crazy thing again, I would have laughed,” she said.
“What an incredible time it has been, my MasterChef. A pivotal part of my growth in my 20s and now the perfect way to begin the next decade of my life.
“How lucky am i to have had such an exciting, fun and nostalgic adventure during what has been no doubt the worst year of many peoples lives. I am eternally grateful for the experience and the opportunity.”
She went on to thank the judges, Melissa Leong, Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo and her “fierce competition” Laura Sharrad.
“Incredible, intelligent woman, successful business owner and loyal friend, I am eternally grateful to know you Loz,” she wrote.
After thanking her family and friends, she acknowledged all the people who have sent her well-wishes in her DMs which hasn’t gone ‘unnoticed’.
“They have made this exceptional experience, even more spectacular,” she wrote.
Emilia revealed the next step for her is baking classes, a brand new line of cake mixes (which have already sold out), a baking bible and “maybe a sneaky choux patisserie”.
Runner-up, Laura, didn’t go home empty-handed, with the judges announcing she was heading off with $30,000.
Both Laura and Emilia took to the pass in a nail-biting service challenge, dishing up over 60 plates each, including entrees, mains and desserts for the judges and all the returning contestants from the season.
Things got off to a shaky start for Emilia, with her beef short ribs taking longer to cook than she anticipated, leaving judge Andy Allen to ask her if it was time to switch to plan B,
Meanwhile, fans felt a wave of sympathy for Laura after she grabbed the handle of a scalding hot pan, burning her hand, meaning she spent the majority of the rest of the show cooking with just one hand.
However, that didn’t seem to stop her, as the judges raved over her Bonito with lilly pilly and saltbush entree.
“It was technically perfect,” Andy said with Jock calling it the “perfect Australian dish”.
As for Emilia’s scallop entree, Jock said it was one of his favourite entrees he’s tasted this year.
Then it was time for the contestants to plate up their mains, with Laura pulling it out of the park with her pork, butter roasted turnips and muntries with thyme, massala and sage sauces.
Melissa called the munties “magical” and commended her knowledge of Australian produce, while Andy called the dish “challenging but in a good way”.
Emilia was worried her main course of beef short ribs with pepper and onion would be too dry but she needn't have sweated it because yet again, the judges couldn’t compliment her dish enough.
“It’s like a schnitzel on steroids. I’m in a state of cat-like happiness. It is so good,” Jock said, smiling as he looked down at an empty plate.
Melissa agreed saying: “I think she has made the right choice to commit to making it exactly how she wants it because it has paid off and it’s gorgeous.”
It was neck to neck, with Emilia breaking down in tears just before the dessert was served as the pressure of the environment overwhelmed her.
Laura also battled through her emotions as she plated up her unusual dessert of Jerusalem artichoke gelato, caramel, crispy skin and cumquat gel.
The judges weren’t impressed with her ice-cream, with Melissa calling it ‘icy’. Andy enjoyed the flavour profile however the texture of the ice cream put him off.
Melissa said the crumb left her feeling like she had ‘sandiness stuck in her teeth’ and while Jock called the crisp ‘fantastic’, he was also left underwhelmed by the ice cream.
“It’s intelligent, it’s sophisticated. It has familiarity and comfort and warmth,” Melissa said about Laura’s menu.
Emilia was worried about the pistachio and Davidson plum combination in her dessert but said that in her mind, they just worked.
And it seemed she was right, with the judges smiling at each other as soon as they tasted the vibrant creation.
“Emilia has managed to show us French patisserie magic,” Melissa said, with Andy saying the balance of flavours was perfect.
24-year-old Laura and 30-year-old Emilia made it through to the finale, after weeks of cooking up a storm in the MasterChef kitchen alongside some of the best chefs the reality show has ever seen.
Emilia Jackson appeared on season six of MasterChef back in 2014, where she was eliminated during the semi-final.
Fans might remember George Colombaris, who was a judge at the time, offering Emilia a position with his pastry team at The Press Club in Melbourne, just after she was eliminated, to which Emelia answered: "When can I start?"
Emilia went on to open up her own cake business after the show and she now creates decadent desserts for weddings, birthdays and engagements.
“I studied hard, practiced constantly and learned a lot from some of the best professional chefs in the business, as well as the talented contestants cooking alongside me,” she says on her website.
“My time on Masterchef taught me that all I really want to do in life is make people happy through butter and sugar, which is why I launched Emelia Jackson Cake Designs.”
When Laura Sharrad was just 19-years-old, in 2014, she also appeared on season six of MasterChef, losing out on the top prize to eventual winner Brent Owens.
While devastated over the loss, she went on to work as a pastry chef alongside now judge Jock Zonfrillo at his hatted restaurant, Orana, in South Australia.
She then moved on to work at Andres Cucina and Hently Farm in the Barossa Valley before opening up her own restaurant, with her husband and fellow chef Max Sharrad, in 2019, called Nido Bar and Pasta.
Speaking of returning to the show for a second chance at the win, Laura told Adelaide Now: “I had a clear goal in mind, and that was to be in until the end.
“I came back because I knew I had a good shot at winning it. I knew I could do it if I tried hard enough.
“But you get this far and you feel like you’ve won already.”