Victorian sisters Tasia and Gracia are 2016's My Kitchen Rules Champions after a six point win over South Australia's Carmine and Lauren
Tasia and Gracia wanted to take the judges on a flavour tour of Asia in tonight's grand final, and with three perfect 10s and an overall score of 57 out of 60, they delivered.
On their grand final win, Gracia, fighting back tears said: "I think it's the greatest achievement that we have ever accomplished and we did it together which makes it more special than anything else."
"We did it and we did it without killing each other," laughed Gracia as she hugged her sister telling her how proud of her she was.
When asked what the future holds for the new MKR champions, Tasia answered: "We definitely want to do street Indonesian food in Australia." Looking at the judges, Gracia added: "Maybe a sauce business?", she asked, which was met with enthusiastic nods from all judges. "Now that we've won we can finally follow our dreams," Gracia continued.
Following in the footsteps of 2011 champions Sammy and Bella, Tasia and Gracia are the second team of sisters to win MKR.
With a score of 51 out of 60, a personal best for them at Kitchen HQ, Carmine and Lauren were gracious in defeat and congratulated the sisters on their win saying: "There's no other team we'd want to share this experience with...we love you guys," said Lauren.
Battling for the title and prize money, each team had to plate up a five course menu for judging by Pete Evans, Manu Feildel, Colin Fassnidge, Karen Martini, Guy Grossi and Liz Egan.
It was an emotional moment for teams as they entered Kitchen HQ to see their respective instant restaurants brought to life. As they started work at their benches, friends, family and fellow contestants arrived ready to sample the five course menu.
While Tasia and Gracia still couldn't believe they were actually competing in the grand final, Carmine and Lauren were determined the girls would be the fifth team they've sent home, keen to silence their critics once and for all with a grand final win.
Carmine and Lauren stuck to their heritage with an Italian inspired menu, plating up beef carpaccio with porcini cream for their first course. Liz said the dish was a gentle way to ease into a five course menu. "It's beautifully light and delicate...I think this is a gorgeous classic," she said, adding she was excited about the rest of the menu.
Tasia and Gracia made a pact to not hold back on the spice in their dishes. Their first course of seared scallop with betel leaves was a unanimous hit with the judges and contestants alike.
"This is one of those dishes that go 'bang' at the start of the night because we've got your palate engaged and we're going to take it for a journey," said Guy. "That was sweet, sour, salty," said Colin, who declared his empty plate. "The first dish off the rank for these guys and they've nailed it."
In a bid to demonstrate technique, Carmine and Lauren presented a second course of milk braised pork belly with scallop and apple.
After fearing their crackling wouldn't be crisp enough, Guy highlighted it as one of the positives of the dish. "It's crunch and texture, it has a delicious flavour on there. That and the apple, what a perfect match." All judges agreed it was a well-balanced dish with the addition of the scallops providing sweetness. "They thought about the balance here and it's been very clever what they've done," said Liz. "That lovely fresh apple and fennel salad with that little bit acidity in there; you really need that with the richness of the pork."
Tasia and Gracia chose chicken ribs with chilli and sweet soy for their second course. Both girls were satisfied with the flavour but did question if ribs were "special enough" for the grand final.
Liz commended the girls on the flavours in the dish. "It's really clever use of spices and a great balance of sweetness, acidity and heat. It's just such clever cooking." Karen agreed saying the dish was "spot on." But Colin disagreed, saying he didn't think it was as strong as the girls' first dish and he found the heat overpowering.
With their 'spaghetti in a bag' instant restaurant disaster still firmly in their minds, Carmine and Lauren sought to redeem themselves with their third course of saffron linguine with butter poached bug tail.
The judges all agreed it was a stunning dish. Guy said: "It's a perfectly executed pasta dish...I think this is a winning dish. Simple, delicate, it just makes my palate want for more." Karen agreed saying it was a "wow" dish.
Tasia and Gracia's third course of grilled king prawns with balado and quail egg equally impressed the judges, allaying the team's fears of the dish packing too much punch.
"This dish is just singing off the plate," said Colin. The prawns are cooked perfectly, as is the quail egg, there's a lot of flavour in this sauce. It's got a real hit of chilli, it's got the lime leaves...it's all about the sauce for me." Karen agreed, saying the girls had nailed the authentic flavour of the dish. "This is something I imagine coming straight from a hawker stall. It's got the breath of the wok in it."
It was a mad rush for sisters Tasia and Gracia to get their fourth course of crispy skin duck with green chilli sambal on the plate with the girls anxious the duck hadn't had enough time to rest.
But they needn't have worried as the judges had nothing but praise when the dish hit the table. "What an amazing dish...that duck skin was perfectly seasoned," said Liz. Karen agreed saying the flavours were "amazing." Guy echoed the sentiment, saying: "It's one of the most perfect dishes we've seen so far...superb."
Carmine and Lauren's fourth course of beef sirloin with madeira jus and mushrooms was applauded by the judges. "What a stunning piece of beef," said Karen, clearly impressed with the home cook's sous-vide/searing cooking technique. For Manu, it was all about the sauce. "That jus is really strong, well reduced and full of flavour. This is restaurant quality." Pete agreed, adding: "It's faultless."
For their fifth and final course, Tasia and Gracia presented a dessert of pandan pudding with coconut and kaffir lime ice cream. Colin admitted he didn't know what to expect from the girls' dessert given the bold and punchy flavours in their previous four courses. "I'm glad they've bought it back and it's calmed the meal down now," he said. "That coconut on the side gives it great texture, with fresh coconut as well and the sorbet, a great finish to this meal." Karen agreed saying it was "sublime."
For their last course at Kitchen HQ, Carmine and Lauren plated up their interpretation of a cherry ripe with their dessert of chocolate, cherry and coconut. The judges agreed it was a "decadent" dessert successfully demonstrating several techniques with the chocolate dome, sorbet, coconut crumb and cake. "They've really brought out the big guns to finish the menu tonight," said Guy.
As the judges delivered their scores, it was clear Tasia and Gracia had edged ahead of their opponents, taking out the title with an overall score of 57 out of 60.