Laura Sharrad, the runner-up on season six, was unfortunately second place on MasterChef again this year, losing to Emelia Jackson in the grand finale. The two women were tasked with making a three-course meal for both the judges and eliminated contestants in under four hours, serving up more than 60 plates of food.
Laura made a seared bonito, pork loin and jerusalem artichoke gelato. While she seemed on top of her cook, she got a nasty burn from the handle of her caramel, which meant that for much of the challenge she was using just one hand. It didn't stop her from plating up a highly praised delicious entree and main. But she slipped with her dessert — after her freezer door was left open, it made her jerusalem artichoke gelato icy, and there was a "sandy" texture to her chocolate crumb. While she didn't win the top prize, she left the competition $30,000 richer.
She copped a fair amount of flack throughout the Back to Win season from fans. They initially accused her of only making pasta and posited that her relationship with her former employer, judge Jock Zonfrillo, gave her an advantage in the competition. But she's much more than just a pasta chef and she's definitely achieved her MasterChef success on her own.
She competed in six Immunity Challenges, winning just one, against veterans Callum Hann and Poh Ling Yeow. She impressed the judges in the alphabet-themed challenge with her Brown Butter Roasted Bugs, even choosing to ignore their advice and ultimately crafting a "faultless" dish.
Responding to the backlash she received online, she told POPSUGAR Australia after her immunity win: "I'm all about proving people wrong and showing them how capable I am as a young woman."
And that backlash has started to dissipate, with people like Hayden Quinn coming forward to defend Laura, and loving the #pastaislife and #notpasta jokes she regularly made on her Instagram. In the meantime, she's humbly been plating up delicious meal after delicious meal, even when she's gotten emotional at being pitted against old friends like Callum Hann. From desserts like her Strawberries & Cream, mains like her Kingfish Tail, to her old faithful pasta, like Mushroom Tortellini En Brodo, and her finale menu of bonito, pork loin and jerusalem artichoke gelato so many of her dishes have proved that she's a contestant not to be underestimated.
Read on for our interview with Laura: