Held in Sean Connolly’s Gusto at the Grand, both teams went into the final cook brimming with confidence.
“Apart from our wedding day, I’d say today is the biggest day of our lives.” Chris said. “There’s a huge amount at stake…We can win this.”
“We will win this” reiterated Bex.
Heather was her usual straightforward self. “This is it. This is what we came for – to win the competition.”
Teams were set a hard task, cooking four courses with 20 plates per course. An entrée, fish course, meat course and a dessert.
The tasting panel included Sean Connolly, Nadia Lim, Ray McVinnie and 2016 Metro chef of the year Tom Hishon.
Heather and Mitch’s menu consisted of mussel and saffron soup to start, followed by a john dory, coconut and cauliflower curry. Their main was beef fillet, barley, creamed spinach and onions and for dessert, L&P cheesecake with passionfruit cream and hokey pokey.
Chris and Bex started with a duck, walnut and pickled grape salad followed by blue cod, butter beans and cauliflower. Their main was 'redemption' gnocchi and oxtail ragu. Redemption, because of the disaster they served in their instant restaurant.
The pair acknowledged it was a “big risk” making gnocchi again after the comments they received from the judges but wanted to prove to them that they can do it.
And for dessert - rhubarb and custard. A dish, Pete later commented, that could have possibly sent them home.
It was neck and neck after the first round of judging, with both teams producing “two very strong first courses” according to Pete.
When it came to round two however, both teams failed to hit the high notes of the first course. Pete felt Chris and Bex’s fish was beautiful but found the butterbean puree “quite jarring.”
Ray found Heather and Mitch's offering “completely one dimensional” and “slightly disappointing.” Manu felt that the curry sauce took over the dish.
At the halfway mark Pete remarked that one team had “just pulled out in front of the other.”
For the third course, Manu described Chris and Bex’s decision to make gnocchi again as “very brave” and it paid off, with the judges loving it. For Ray, it was “gnocchi made in heaven” and Sean Conolley said it could be the “dish of the day.”
For Heather and Mitch, their beef was perfectly cooked, but the judges felt the onions overpowered the dish. The sauce was “delicious” but there wasn’t enough of it.
Chris and Bex were the clear winners of round three and it was all riding on the dessert for Heather and Mitch. Pete remarked that in order for them to win they needed a “faultless dessert and they need Chris and Bex to have a little stumble.”
Heather felt like Chris and Bex’s dessert was good but theirs was better. She was right, with all of the judges agreeing.
The judges weren’t happy with the amount of gelatine Chris and Bex’s dessert, prompting Ray to ask if they had shares in a gelatine factory. Tom felt they’d “lost the essence of what rhubarb really is.” Manu demonstrated the desert fail best by turning the custard upside down, with nothing falling out of the glass.
For Heather and Mitch's dessert, the judges were unanimous, with Ray proclaiming it one of the best chessecakes he’d ever tasted.
When it came to judging all four courses, they were praised for the cooking of their steak and seafood but criticised for some of the accompaniments. The highest praise, however, was reserved for their dessert. “Pete and I have had many many many cheesecakes on My Kitchen Rules…this one was probably the lightest we’ve ever had.”
Nadia awarded them a 7, with the rest of the judges going with 8, taking Heather and Mitch to a final score of 47 out of 60.
Chris and Bex received 8’s from Sean and Nadia, with the rest of the judges awarding them 9’s, taking their total to 52 out of 60 and crowning them My Kitchen Rules New Zealand winners for 2017.
Commiserating with Heather and Mitch, Manu said they “deserve every accolade.”
“The competition wouldn’t have been the same without you.” Pete remarked.
Mitch congratulated the pair on their win, while touching on some of the jibes they've been known for throughout the competition.
“Well done to Chris and Bex, it was great cooking against them today. That was outstanding food tonight. We’ve had to put up with a few boring yarns along the way, but apart from that, it’s a top effort.”
And for the winners, through tears Bex said it meant “everything” to her. “Winning MKR means we can seek out our food dream.”
Congratulations Chris and Bex!