MasterChef Australia winners Julie Goodwin (S01), Adam Liaw (S02), Andy Allen (S04) & Kate Bracks (S03).

Congratulations to Andy Allen, crowned last night as the winner of series four of MasterChef Australia. Andy defeated Julia Taylor over the last two courses/challenges set for the finalists, after fan favourite Audra Morrice was seen away after the initial entree challenge.

The entree challenge saw each of the three finalists line up to prepare 35 entrees each for a group of 100 MasterChef fans. Julia won this round, scoring 25/30 from the judges, after serving rare roast beef with horseradish creme fraiche. Andy was second on 23 with his seared tuna with squid ink and cauliflower puree, while Adura scored 21 for her salad with summer prawns and egg nest. Each finalist could use two eliminated contestants to assist with their plating and it came right down to the wire for Audra, Amin & TK, delivering their last dish as the countdown completed.

The second round saw Julia & Andy face off in an Australian-themed invention test, which Andy won with his modern seafood basket. Julia’s smoked lamb with lemon myrtle potato fondant was a hit with the judges except that her lamb was far too undercooked. Andy scored 28; Julia 21; giving Andy a 5 point buffer heading into the final round.

Christine Mansfield challenged the finalists to replicate her Gaytime ice-cream inspired dessert. Both Julia & Andy struggled through the challenge, each having to remake the mousse component after a less than successful first batch. While the “Dessert Queen” Julia was the clear favourite she ran out of time during her mison plus component and barely completed all components. In the end Andy’s dish was far superior yeilding him a total of 25 points to Julia’s 22, giving him a grand total 76 points (to Julia’s 68) and allowing Gary to declare him the winner of MasterChef Australia 2012.

The former electrician won $100,000, a book deal and a chance to gain work experience in some of Australia‚Äôs top restaurants. Julia won $15,000 and received an offer for a paid apprenticeship with Adriano Zumbo, while Audra received $5,000. In a touching family moment just before the winner was announced, the families of both Andy & Julia joined them in the MasterChef Kitchen, where Julia announced that her sister “has been waiting for two weeks to meet Matt Meringue”.

It caps off a successful first series for production house Shine Australia who took over the MasterChef franchise from FreemantleMedia Australia at the end of last season (Shine own the format internationally). There was some concern that the gloss had worn off the series after three seasons yet Shine still managed to surprise and capture the audience looking for the show’s special brand of culinary escapism. While the series may not have won it’s timeslot while up against The Block, it still performed strongly and as soon as the competing series finished MasterChef more than took control of the timeslot, and often the night, to deliver much-needed strong ratings for Channel 10.

Banking on the success and rebuilt audience goodwill for the series, tonight at 7pm Ch10 launch MasterChef All Stars, featuring 12 past contestants including two former winners in Julie Goodwin and Kate Bracks. Running for three weeks while the Olympics are on it stands to continue the success of the franchise against some stiff sporting competition.