Tonight saw Larissa Takchi crowned the youngest winner in MasterChef Australia history.
But TV WEEK can reveal that the restaurant manager, 22, has another reason to celebrate – she's engaged!
"It was amazing," Larissa reveals. "It was a very special moment between just us two."
Here, the star opens up about her engagement to fiancé Luke, their wedding plans and the Grand Finale…
Huge congrats! Was the Grand Finale as gruelling as it looked?
I struggled a lot in that cook. I had a moment where I wanted to walk out. The pressure just got to me. It was one of the hardest challenges I've ever done on the show. I just didn't know how any of us would get it done. It was borderline ridiculous!
How did you manage to stay in control?
I've learned to use the pressure as a weapon to do well. But it got to the point where I was like, 'I am so done'. I didn't know how much energy I had left to give. But then I looked up to the gantry and my whole family were there. They were like, 'Don't you dare give up!' After that I went into a different gear and kept going, I had nothing to lose. Having my family there to push me was my saving grace because I would've walked out.
You're the youngest winner in MasterChef Australia history. How does that feel?
It's weird to even say it out loud. I want to encourage a younger generation to pursue their food dream. I've had moments where people have asked me if I feel like I'm at a disadvantage because of my age. But you can't discriminate people because of their age. You do what you do because you love it. I've noticed a lot of my fans are very young children which is really nice to see.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I've got Julie Goodwin to look up to in that regard. It's been 10 years since she won, so for me to watch her grow and see how far she has come is such an inspiration to me. It just shows how far MasterChef can take you. I am hoping my restaurant is up and coming by then. Originally I wanted to do a wine bar restaurant, and I will be doing that very soon in my mum's café, opening up dinner there. But I think I've got another dream which will be a long-term goal for me. I want to buy a block of land in Dural and establish a restaurant there, so people can have that farm to table dining experience.
How will you make sure you don't splurge the prize money?!
[laughs] I will probably lock it away. I think my mum will have to be the holder of the money because I probably won't be able to trust myself! I think it's best not to have access to it and just use it when I need it!
Congratulations on the engagement, too! Luke must be so proud…
He was over the moon. I never went on the show thinking I would win. I was just competing with myself and seeing how far I could take this. I wasn't competing with anyone, I wasn't aggressive. It was a personal experience to see how far I could push myself and how much I could grow. Winning was one thing, but I'm also happy that I've learned so much about myself. Luke has seen that whole transition and is so proud.
How did Luke pop the question?
It was probably a week after everything wrapped up. I was kind of expecting it but not at the same time! We'd made a reservation at Peter Gilmore's Quay restaurant. He picked me up beforehand and gave me a blindfold to put on and I was like, 'What is going on?!' He drove us to his house, got me out of the car and escorted me to his front porch and told me to take the blindfold off. All I saw were these lit up block letters saying 'Marry Me'. He then went down on one knee and gave this amazing speech. Obviously I said yes, it was amazing. It was a very special moment, it was just between us two.
Have you made any wedding plans yet?
We're going to wait. After all of this, I just want to see where it takes me. I'd rather let it settle down and have an idea of what's happening at least, and then we can start thinking about planning a wedding.
- Local NewsHow you can help farmers and communities affected by the drought this Christmas
Australian Women's WeeklyYesterday 5:55pm