Larissa Takchi Becomes The Youngest Ever Winner Of ‘MasterChef Australia’
Larissa Takchi would have been 11 years old when ‘MasterChef Australia’ first premiered back in 2009.
More than a decade later, Larissa-- affectionately known as Larry -- has become the youngest contestant ever to take out the number one spot on the cooking competition.
The 22-year-old restaurant manager from Dural scored an impressive 85/90 in a three-course service challenge, beating out contestants Tessa Boersma and Simon Toohey with her risk-taking, flavour-packed dishes.
Despite a rocky start and several heart-stopping moments where it looked like she was slipping behind, the judges were blown away by Larry’s bone marrow with onion soubise entree and main dish of marron and fennel puree.
But it was her Szechuan pavlova with beetroot and blackberry sorbet that scored her 10s across the board, with Matt Preston describing it as “brain frazzling-ly good food”.
Speaking to 10 daily the day the grand finale aired, Larissa explained that she was happy she could finally share her big secret after months of having to lie about how she fared in the competition.
“I’m sick of just hiding in my bedroom and just like, rocking back and forth not knowing how to deal with people because I've got such a huge family and people just want to know what happened,” she laughed.
The stress of keeping her giant secret aside, Larry told us that she’s just “feeling really happy” about how her ‘MasterChef’ journey panned out.
“I’m happy for many reasons, the show is done now and that makes me sad as well but that was such a hard, hard, run -- a long time I was in there. It’s not easy being on ‘MasterChef’.
“It’s rewarding, I don’t regret a single thing and I’ve grown so much as a person but I’m also happy that all that hard work has actually paid off and that I’ve actually won,” Larissa told 10 daily.
“Which is a weird thing to say out loud but yeah, I’m just really proud of myself!” she said.
Without watching the episode and seeing her final score of 85 out of a possible 90, it could be easily assumed that Larissa breezed through her final cook with the same confidence she carried herself with throughout the last few months on the show.
“Honestly, it was the hardest challenge I’ve ever done,” she told 10 daily.
“After so many months on ‘MasterChef’... it’s fricken hard, it’s tiring. It’s mentally, physically, emotionally exhausting and it’s all coming down to this one last push,” she said.
Although Larissa began planning her final menu the second she knew she was in the top 3, she faced unexpected hurdles like not preparing enough marron for a main course portion and slipping behind on trimming her bone marrow.
“Plus you have your family there,” she said of the highly emotional atmosphere of the final cook.
“As much as I loved having them there, and they saved me a lot in that cook, it was also hard to acknowledge that they were there because you had to emotionally feel that,” she explained.
Larissa had her parents, Simon and Jeanette, siblings Tiana, Louis and Daniel, and partner Luke cheering for her in the gantry, keeping her spirits afloat whenever she started to doubt herself during the cook.
And as harrowing as the cook was, with all three contestants looking visibly exhausted by the end -- it was the first time ‘MasterChef’ finalists were able to plate up dishes that were purely their own, instead of following someone else’s recipe for a difficult dessert.
“It’s a major thing because, usually in ‘MasterChef’, the last challenge is a pressure test and, finally we get to do something different where you put yourself on a plate and you showcase how much you’ve learnt,” she said.
READ MORE: READ MORE: ‘MasterChef’: Corn, Corn And More Corn: Larissa Is A Tactical Genius
“Like, that’s amazing! When they said that I was like, ‘thank god!’”
When Larry was awarded 10s from Gary, George and Matt for her final dish it still hadn’t sunk in that she’d won the whole competition. “Is this real?’ she whispered to her family before they lifted her up on their shoulders.
One of the most wholesome aspects of ‘MasterChef’ is the fact that sizeable cash prize is never really mentioned by contestants or judges -- despite there being a huge, life-changing sum of money at stake (as well as a car and a column in Delicious magazine).
The competition is about nurturing 24 separate food dreams, it’s just that the winner is the one who gets $250,000 to kickstart their new career whether it’s opening a restaurant, planning a pop-up or writing a cookbook.
While Larissa originally had plans to open a wine bar, she’s had enough time to mull things over and plan a much broader project that brings together her upbringing on a farm in Dural and the skills she’s learned on ‘MasterChef’.
“I want to eventually buy a block of land in Dural, build a farm there, establish a restaurant within the farm and have that farm to table dining experience,” she told 10 daily.
Larissa explained that she and boyfriend Luke escaped to Tasmania for nine days after her big win and she found inspiration at Matthew Evans’ Fat Pig Farm.
“It’s almost like they’re welcoming you into their home and they walked us through the farm, showed us everything on the farm that they grow,” she said of her experience.
“Not only was the food unreal, the produce was something that I’ve never had before in my life because it was so fresh and beautiful but you were sitting with a group of strangers that you became friends with, it made you feel so comfortable,” she said of the communal dining experience.
She explained that it’s the type of food she wants to make at her own farm restaurant, adding that she’s “not really into phoney bloody smoke whatever fancy food” and is more into humble meals.
Larry explained that her upbringing on a farm has given her a connection to food, where she understands and respects the process of something growing from a single seed into a gorgeous piece of fruit.
“It’s something that I’ve always been aware of and I think that’s why I’m so connected to food because I think, if you have that experience to see how something grows, it’s a nurturing thing, I’ve felt the soil between my hands. It’s something that I’m always been brought up with.”
Larissa, we couldn’t be happier that you’ve won ‘MasterChef’ and we can’t wait to see what you do next.