Originally posted Wednesday, September 18, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Dorian Hunter of Cartersville took home the $250,000 prize during the 10th season of Fox’s amateur cooking competition show “Masterchef” Wednesday night.
“This trophy validates all the hard work and sacrifices that I made,” she said after the win, then referenced her late mom: “Mom! We did it! We did it!”
The textile worker nearly walked out of the tryouts in Atlanta last year but her faith and her friends and family kept her going. And she was rewarded with the victory, cooking with passion and finesse.
Dorian, who hopes to open her own restaurant, defeated two very capable rivals in 22-year-old Harvard student and boldly creative cook Nick DiGiovanni and intense 31-year-old Army veteran and mom Sarah Faherty. (Nick’s main fish entree was served on a book!)
The final challenge was cooking an appetizer, an entree and a dessert in front of a live audience.
“It’s your heart on the plate,” said judge Gordon Ramsay after sampling her seared scallop appetizer.
Her entree was a applewood smoked short rib that honors her late mom.
“It is absolutely delicious,” Ramsay said. But he thought it didn’t have enough sauce and was a little too “posh.” Joe Bastianich like the dish, less the plating aesthetics, her weakest point during the competition.
Fortunately, it ultimately came down to the dessert, Dorian’s strength. She opted to try something new: a cake inside a lemon blueberry tart. And she brought special plates featuring her late mom Phyliss’ hands to honor her.
“If she were here today, she would be so happy that I took a chance on myself and that I actually listened to her for once,” Dorian told the judges.
“Capital D for me, Dorian. Delicious!” Ramsay said, of the dish. Aaron Sanchez was impressed that she tried something so uncharted. Bastianich again critiqued the presentation, wondering if it was “restaurant” worthy.
But ultimately, they liked Dorian’s three dishes slightly better than Sarah’s. (Nick had been cut following the entree portion.)
Sanchez summarized Dorian’s cooking philosophy: “Taking low country cuisine and elevating it with better ingredients, modern technique and creating this new Southern style cooking. I can see Dorian being a leader of that in the future.”
At age 45, Dorian is the oldest winner in the show’s history. She is also the first “Masterchef” winner from Georgia. (Milton’s Jasmine Stewart won season 5 of “Masterchef Junior.”)
She not only gets the financial prize and a Viking kitchen but will get personal training from all three judges’ restaurants.
In an interview before the finale aired, she said she focused less on becoming friends with everybody and more on winning the competition. She said she absorbed all the critiques she and others received and observed everything she could. The focus paid off.
Fox is already seeking amateur chefs for season 11 in 2020 and in-person casting will happen in Atlanta October 19 with a location not yet finalized.
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