Billie Addresses Whether Training With Heston Gave Her an Advantage in the MasterChef Finale

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Winning MasterChef Australia is no easy feat, but taking home the title twice? It’s near impossible. However, last night during the grand finale, Billie McKay managed to do exactly that.

The chef was first crowned the winner back in 2015, and then, to cement her icon status, she won the show for a second time after beating out fellow contestant Sarah Todd

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It was a historical finale, and McKay could hardly believe it.

“I’m floating on a cloud! It’s quite surreal, and I can’t quite believe it yet, but it’s slowly sinking in,” McKay told POPSUGAR Australia after her win.

McKay, who was 24 when she originally appeared on MasterChef Australia, revealed on last night’s episode that she “wasn’t ready” when she won the first time.

Despite going on to work for Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck in the UK, the chef said she wasn’t prepared to throw herself into the industry like she is now.

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“I wasn’t really ready for what would come after [the finale] and the pressures of getting into the food industry and throwing my whole self into that,” said McKay.

“And I think it was because I was a whole lot younger and didn’t really have a clear direction in where I wanted to go. This time around, I enjoyed it a lot more because I definitely realised cooking is what I want to do.”

Last night, McKay came face-to-face with Blumenthal once again when he gave her and Todd the task of recreating his Taffety Tart. Questions were raised online about whether McKay had the advantage over Todd, having worked for the chef before, but the reality TV star is adamant that’s not the case.

“Those pressure tests are always really hard, regardless of the chefs that set them,” she said. You get the recipe, it’s such a level playing field for the contestants in the challenge. 

“While I have worked for The Fat Duck and worked for Heston, the dish last night was from [his restaurant] Dinner. So it was something I had never seen before. We were definitely on a level playing field.”

Walking in the MasterChef kitchen almost a decade later definitely felt different for McKay. For one, she was about to cook for an entirely new trio of judges, and two, she was leaving behind her daughter.

However, there was zero hesitation on her part when she got the call, saying her instincts told her to go for it.

“I never would have thought I would say yes that quickly, and my gut feeling would be, ‘let’s do it!’,” said the two-time winner.

“I really enjoyed it in Season 7, but it was pretty stressful being away for that long. So I knew it was going to be a big sacrifice of time and family.

“But it was this overriding feeling of, ‘Give it a crack’, and I’m really glad I did.”

Speaking of the new judges, McKay said there was a noticeable difference between the two groups. Having originally cooked for Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston in Season 7, McKay said Melissa Leong, Andy Allen and Jock Zonfrillo focus more on the flavours of the dish rather than the presentation.

“I’ve been so pleasantly surprised at how [Melissa, Andy and Jock] are as a trio. There’s a real focus on the flavour of the food and it doesn’t really matter what it looks like,” said the 31-year-old.

“While the old judges really appreciated a good-looking plate of food.

“At the end of the day, flavours have always trumped the dish’s looks. So these judges have really set that in stone.”

After a whirlwind journey, the chef is looking forward to unwinding and relaxing with her family before getting herself stuck in her food dream.

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