‘I Had Everything To Prove’: Brent Draper Wins MasterChef Australia 2023

The newly crowned MasterChef is the first to admit his is not the “average MasterChef journey”.

Initially appearing on the series in Season 13, Brent left the competition after telling the judges he felt that he needed to prioritise his mental health.

After working on himself, Brent returned to the MasterChef kitchen, and went on to tackle every challenge thrown his way, finding himself in his first pressure test of the season, and being crowned winner of MasterChef Australia 2023.

“I don’t think you can plan or prep yourself for something like this so I’m just enjoying the ride,” Brent told 10 Play.

“I had everything to prove coming back,” he continued, “the last time I was in that kitchen was when I was leaving, and not in a good shape.”

When it came time to returning, Brent had a lot to face and relive in the first few episodes, but once that was out of the way it was all about proving to himself that the hard work and everything he had learned about himself had put him in a good place.

“I also wanted to come back and show the judges the growth I had done… I had a lot to prove,” he added.

Standing in the grand finale alongside Rhiannon, Brent first wowed the judges with a dish dedicated to his MasterChef journey. Recreating the first dish he made this season, Brent wanted to showcase how his cooking had evolved, and how he as a chef had done the same calling his dish the “result of this whole journey”.

Receiving a whopping 29 out of 30 points in round one, Brent was on a good footing for when guest chef Amaury Guichon entered, tasking the finalists to recreate his intricate pocket-watch dessert.

“I had a suspicion — not exactly what the challenge was going to be, but I knew we were probably looking at a dessert,” Brent said. “I had that already in my head, preparing for that.

“I knew they weren’t going to give an ‘over the hibachi pressure test,’” he said, laughing. “I was prepared for a long dessert or something like that so, when the cloche was lifted, I wasn’t going to fall over.”

Bringing in an award-winning pastry chef, whose over-the-top creations have amassed him a monumental global audience, Brent knew the challenge would be difficult. “When Amaury lifted the cloche I was honestly waiting for the hands to start ticking,” he joked.

“He’s an absolute wizard in his craft and everyone gets to see those things he does on Instagram… in all honesty, what a grand finale, what a way to finish. You may as well get the best and try to complete the best in the last one.”

Exhausted after the cook, Brent was beaming with pride with what he was able to achieve in the challenge. “I was proud of how it looked, it wasn’t too far off the real one, I knew I got all my layering right and I was just really, really stoked.”

All that was left was for the final scores to be revealed. “It was honestly just the weirdest feeling,” Brent admitted. “It was so surreal, but I knew it was actually legit.”

That moment wasn’t just a result of the pressure test, but a culmination of everything Brent had worked for after walking out of the kitchen a few years ago. On top of that, he was able to share it with Jock Zonfrillo in his final season before his passing.

“He is my food mentor. Growing up I never had a Nonna that taught me anything, none of my family could cook so I never had that food role model. For me, it was Jock.

“It’s been such an amazing time celebrating his legacy, watching him. He does it like no one else and I’m really honoured I got to do this season with him,” Brent said.

Having talked about it for a while, Brent’s plan is to focus on a recipe book that focuses on barbecuing that will be aimed mostly at men.

“Within the cookbook would be stories of people and their mental health battles and their recipes,” he explained. “I just want to merge those two things because, as males, we don’t tend to talk to each other face-to-face, but if there was a barbecue going, and we're just turn some snags, there’s a bit more opening up there.”