For the second time in the MasterChef Australia’s nine-season history, an Asian Australian has won its highly-coveted top prize.
Malaysian-born Diana Chan defeated runner-up Ben Ungermann by just a point to capture the 2017 MasterChef Australia crown, winning AUD $250,000 ($191,161) in prize money, a nice trophy, and a monthly column in DELICIOUS, a popular food magazine in Australia.
In the suspenseful two-and-a-half-hour finale that aired on Monday night, the finalists participated in a three-cook showdown to determine the eventual MasterChef, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Chan, an accountant based in Melbourne, was hoping to use her prize money to open a “fresh and casual” restaurant that embraces fusion dishes in inner Melbourne. The new champ has been known to be constantly referencing her Malaysian heritage in her cooking throughout the season.
The talented cook, who grew up in Johor Baru, was quoted as saying: “I definitely want to have Malaysian influences. But balanced, wholesome and delicious — that’s my criteria.”
In the finale, Chan impressed the judges with her delicious-looking creations: Malaysian-inspired oatmeal prawns with vegetables in a creamy sauce, abalone with Chinese broccoli and green leaf juice, crispy spatchcock skin, shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
Chan, who was leading by just three points after the first two rounds via the mystery box challenge and ‘free-for-all’ segment, encountered some minor setbacks in the third round when they were tasked to recreate a complicated dessert by Australian pastry chef Kirsten Tibballs.
While Chan’s win earned a significant amount of support from Australian viewers, there were those who questioned the results after an error on editing showed an alternate scoreboard indicating Ungermann had won instead, reports the Courier Mail.
To clear up the issue, Masterchef Australia issued the following statement:
“To protect the winner and the highly anticipated result, two endings of MasterChef Australia are filmed by our production partner.”
“An editing error during production meant two versions of the final score went to air last night. The episode is being amended and the correct version will appear on tenplay and in future on-air broadcasts.”
The explanation, however, did not stop other viewers from posting hateful remarks condemning Chan’s win.
MasterChef Australia is one of the rare shows on mainstream Australian television which regularly feature diversity in its castings.
On the show’s second season back in 2010, another Malaysian, a lawyer named Adam Liaw won the competition.