People Online Celebrated How Last Night's MasterChef Finale Centred on Two Women Lifting Each Other Up
Last night's MasterChef finale was remarkable for a number of reasons — one being that the final two, Emelia Jackson and Laura Sharrad, were two strong, young women, who had been friends since season six (and who also both attended the same primary and high school in Melbourne) in 2014.
MasterChef has form in all-women finales, with Julie Goodwin and Poh Ling Yeow in season one, Billie McKay and Georgia Barnes in season seven, and Larissa Takchi and Tessa Boersma last year in season 11.
Throughout the episode, Emelia and Laura motivated and joked with one another, Emelia at one point joking she was "psyching" Laura out — just as they had throughout the season. They did so even through some difficult moments, especially for Laura, who severely burned her hand on the handle of her caramel pan, which had been positioned over pork fat.
At the end of the cook, they talked about the end of MasterChef. "We just did the Grand Final together," Emelia said, with Laura adding how the experience felt "surreal".
"I just cannot believe this is over," Laura said. "I don't want this to end."
"I'm just gonna miss it a lot," Emelia said, tearing up, before the two women walked out of their kitchen setup to applause from the other contestants.
When Emelia was announced as the winner, the pair hugged. "I'm sorry," Emelia repeated. "I'm so proud of you. I promise I'm happy for you," Laura reassured her.
Emelia called Back to Win "the most special experience of my life", thanks not only to the judges, but to "this little lady", Laura. "Being able to reconnect with Laura after so many years has been just magic for me. She's just incredible. She's just so amazing."
Laura reflected through tears: "I'm so proud of her. Mils is amazing, and she deserves this so much. She's come so far. To watch her grow has been amazing. To reconnect with her has been amazing. To eat her food has been amazing. She really deserves this."
In her Instagram post after the finale, Emelia described Laura as a "fierce competitor, incredible, intelligent woman, successful business owner and loyal friend". "I am eternally grateful to know you Loz," she wrote.
Laura also shared kind words for Emelia on her Instagram: "To my Mils, you are a true queen, a deserving winner & I am so so proud of you."
Judge Melissa Leong also praised both women on Instagram ahead of the episode: "I am overwhelmed with emotion to see the two of you here at the finish line." She highlighted the women's "wisdom, kindness, character, technique and camaraderie", before concluding, "Women to the front: it's your time."
MasterChef has long been applauded for its commitment to diversity — especially this year with the addition of the articulate Melissa Leong. It shouldn't be so novel to see two women, who support each other, as the focal point on primetime television, but it still is, and it's thrilling.
Here's hoping that Laura and Emelia's efforts inspire more young women to succeed in the food industry, encourage one another, and share their love of and through food: