Sashi Cheliah has won the 2018 season of MasterChef Australia in the most one-sided finale in the cooking show’s history.
The 39-year-old prison officer and father-of-two from South Australia scored a whopping 93 out of 100 to beat Queensland builder Ben Borsht who finished with 77 out of 100.
Cheliah smashed it out of the gate with a massive 16 point lead after the first round — too big a gap for Borsht to peg back.
The second round involved the pair recreating Heston Blumenthal’s “counting sheep” dessert which involved 19 elements and 84 ingredients.
Cheliah said he will use the $250,000 winner’s prize to help start an Indian and South East Asian fusion restaurant.
Cheliah also aims to work with ex-prisoners to provide employment opportunities in the food industry.
“MasterChef has been an amazing ride for me — I never thought I would come this far in the competition and to win is icing on the cake,” Cheliah said.
“The overwhelming support from my fans and family has made me realise my potential, and it has motivated me to achieve great heights.”
Fans of the show took to Twitter, congratulating the popular contestant on his win.
In round one, Cheliah and Borsht had 90 minutes to plate up a starter and a main course around a particular hero ingredient.
Borsht went for seafood with a blue swimmer crab starter with finger limes, coriander and avocado cream. His main was deep fried whiting with peas served alongside parsley and garlic emulsion, which proved controversial with the Twittersphere.
Judges Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan were less than impressed with the results.
Borsht’s starter was too creamy and lacked crunch. A mistake in the kitchen meant sections of his whiting main was lacking batter. Mehigan said he was struggling to find positives and the fish was a let-down.
Borsht scored 20 out of 30 for the starter and 21 out of 30 for his main for a so-so first round total of 41 out of 60.
It was a different story for Cheliah who used chilli as the hero ingredient for his sambal prawns starter and snapper for a fish curry with cumin rice main.
Cheliah’s prawns won universal praise from the judges — “a smashing starter that showcases really wonderful cooking” — and a perfect 30 out of 30 score.
Cheliah’s main, created in honour of his aunty was another knockout. The fish was beautifully cooked and there was a complex sauce to match. All three judges scored 9 out of 10 and Cheliah was sitting pretty on 57 out of 60.
Borsht was determined to gain back ground but Blumenthal’s terrifying “counting sheep” dessert — which took five and a half hours to make — wasn’t the place to do it.
The dessert, which caused a stir on Twitter, was even more complex than Blumenthal’s botrytis cinerea from season 7 and verjus in egg from season 8.
The dessert featured coconut ice cream with a steamed sponge and panna cotta, a lychee, caramel and coriander mousse, and yoghurt powder as well as a series of purees of pistachio, orange flower water and coriander.
Both contestants were scored 36 out of 40 — nine from Blumenthal, Preston, Calombaris and Mehigan.
Borsht, who was awarded $40,000 was gracious in defeat.
“Throughout the competition I’ve found such a passion for food, especially seafood and can’t wait to see where this new-found passion leads me.”
Mehigan said that Cheliah would be a wonderful ambassador for MasterChef Australia across years to come.
“You have proven yourself to be a brilliant cook, a creative thinker, team player, a determined, kind soul with a dream to change your life and forge a new future in food,” Mehigan said.