A symphony of black (with an overture of velvet)...

Congratulations to Kate Bracks, last night crowned winner of the 3rd season of MasterChef Australia. Kate beat Michael Weldon with a decisive victory in the third challenge – a snowman from the menu of Rene Redzepi and his restaurant Noma in Copenhagen.

The judges Matt Moran, Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris all raved about the food plated by the Top 2 contestants, and their journey to the finals through the series. Kate’s commitment to the show in spending so long away from her family was applauded by Preston.

Bracks wins not only the title of 2011 MasterChef, joining a very exclusive club with other members Adam Liaw and Julie Goodwin, but also training at a number of Australia’s top restaurants, a book publishing deal with Random House Australia, and $100,000. Michael was lucky enough to score a culinary scholarship with Gary Mehigan at his Melbourne restuarants.

Both Kate and Michael were worked very hard, pushing through the first challenge of 3 mystery boxes each (where they had to prepare each element not knowing what was coming next) – Michael won 17 to Kate’s 15. Then challenge 2 delivered an invention test where both had to show the techniques they’d picked up throughout the course of the show. At the end of round 2, the score settled at Kate 51 vs Michael 48.

In the end however, both contestants delivered snowmen that made them hard to split – with Kate picking up straight 9’s (87) & Michael sharing 9’s & 8’s (82).

It’s a strong finish to a season that promised so much – a return to MasterChef’s roots – and lost it’s way in the middle with one too many celebrity chefs and guests, along with a challenge around the United Nations in New York which seemed to overstate the importance of the show. Some contestants also seemed to defy logic by progressing week to week whilst showing little of the skill expected of the contestants at each stage.

A change in production house (from Freemantle Media Australia to Shine Australia – who currently make Junior MasterChef for the Ten Network) now takes place for MasterChef 2012, with promises that the show will indeed be more about the food, the cooking and the skills required to be Australia’s MasterChef.