ANDY Allen became the Hunter’s latest reality television champion last night with a scintillating display of culinary skills.
The 24-year-old from East Maitland took out MasterChef 2012’s grand final after battling it out with fellow finalists Julia Taylor and Audra Morrice.
Allen finished the final with a total score of 76 out of a possible 90 points, eight ahead of Taylor.
Fellow finalist Morrice had already been disposed of in the first round as Allen’s seared tuna entree managed to pip her prawn salad, with judges describing it as ‘‘very sophisticated’’ and ‘‘delicious’’.
Taylor went into the second round with a two-point advantage but Allen blitzed the challenge with his fisherman’s basket.
The contestants were given the tricky task of presenting ‘‘Australia’s national dish’’.
While Taylor chose lamb racks, Allen went straight for the seafood, calling it a no-brainer.
‘‘If you haven’t had a fisherman’s basket then you’re probably not Australian,’’ he said.
He scored 28 out of 30 for his seafood, nailing the dish as Taylor undercooked her lamb. Allen headed into the final challenge with a healthy five-point lead.
Yet Allen’s heart fell a bit when Christine Manfield, highly regarded chef and author, came out to present the final hurdle.
She warned the contestants as she revealed her Gaytime Goes Nuts dessert.
‘‘It’s deceptively simple, but be afraid, be very afraid,’’ she said.
Allen confessed that he had never made ice-cream or caramel in his life and it looked like Taylor’s sweet tooth could cause an upset.
Yet when the final scores were held up Allen came through on top and with it came $100,000 in prize money, a cookbook publishing deal and the chance to work at a number of Australia’s finest restaurants.
‘‘I’m feeling over the moon. I very proud of myself really,’’ he said.