MKR for 2017 is over and the winners have been crowned.
From battling pea soups to rival sauces so full of flavour that Manu Feildel would be happy to swim in them all night, the last teams standing in My Kitchen Rules's eighth season — Queensland siblings Amy and Tyson and mother-daughter pair Valerie and Courtney — delivered extraordinary food both contemporary and traditional.
Pete Evans said of Valerie and Courtney Ferdinands, "You've put up some of the best dishes we ever tasted, intricate dishes refined over the ages."
Manu said of Amy and Tyson Murr, "From the beginning, you said you wouldn't settle for average and you didn't. Every dish was an opportunity to be bold and creative, to push yourselves and to challenge us as judges."
So which team's kitchen ruled for 2017? SPOILER ALERT!
Amy and Tyson have been named Season 8's MKR winners.
"I think I'm in shock," Amy said when the announcement was made. Usually stoic Tyson added with visible pride and relief, "I'm so proud of what Amy and I have achieved together."
Along with the title comes $250,000, which the pair told WHO they will use to help Tyson pursue his food dreams. Amy said, "We have toyed with a few ideas of things we'd like to do. We've shown that we do interesting desserts, and I think there could be something interesting in that in terms of some form of a business idea. I think people would like to experience the weird and wacky things that we do for themselves."
Valerie and Courtney, gracious in defeat, celebrated their unity as a mother and daughter. "MKR has brought us even closer together," Valerie said.
Added Courtney, "I want to say a big, huge thank you to my mum. She’s an amazing person. She inspires me every day.”
If you want to drool once more at their menus, here they are:
Amy and Tyson's Mosaic
First course: Parmesan & Truffle Mousse with Mushrooms
Second course: Pea & Ham Soup
Third course: Butter Poached Marron with Jerusalem Artichoke and Rhubarb
Fourth course: Veal, Sweetbreads and Marrow
Fifth course: After Dinner Mint
Valerie and Courtney's Tiffin Room
First course: Samosa Crisp with Chat
Second course: Salmon Tikka Skewers with Coriander and Pea Soup
Third course: Spiced Spanish Mackerel with Khichdi
Fourth course: Pork Vindaloo with Tumeric Cabbage and Beetroot Raita
Fifth course: Pistachio Kulfi
Amy said of Valerie and Courtney, "The judges love their food and they pack loads of flavour. We do very different food. I'm just hoping it will be enough for the judges." On the other side of the Kitchen HQ wall, Courtney said, "Our five-course menu is a journey through the East and we're really looking forward to taking the judges through that journey."
After the first entrée, the edge seemed to go to Valerie and Courtney "by a whisker," said Group Three contestant Mark. Pete said would have liked Amy and Tyson's mushroom-rich dish, accompanied by asparagus, to have a crisp element to it but nonetheless called it "very near perfect."
In the battle of pea soups for the second course, guest judge Colin Fassnidge said of Amy and Tyson's pea and ham soup, "They've taken a rustic peasant-style food with peasant-style ingredients, these are ingredients I love, and they have refined them and gotten crackling in there, perfectly cooked crackling," while Pete added, "This is worthy of the Grand Final. This is what I was expecting of them."
For Valerie and Courtney's salmon tikka skewers with pea and coriander soup, guest judge Karen Martini said, "This pea soup is delicious. It has a gentle spice right at the end but it's actually surprisingly refreshing and sweet on the palate. It works with the well-cooked salmon."
With the third course, guest judge Guy Grossi had a slight quibble with Valerie and Courtney's mackerel dish, preferring less rice, a smaller cut of fish and more sauce, which all the judges agreed was the high point. Karen described the sauce as "really vibrant." Manu credited Amy and Tyson for a marron that was "remarkable texture-wise, flavour-wise, seasoning — everything we've been asking for all the time is in that dish."
The stress was starting to show in both kitchens in preparing the fourth course, with teams egging on Tyson to unleash the Angry Angry Man when his food processor wasn't working and Valerie breaking down in tears thinking about her late father, whose recipe she was cooking.
That fourth course proved a revelation for judges, with Guy saying Valerie and Courtney's pork vindaloo was "another beautifully executed and full-flavoured dish," but Karen shocked the rest by declaring Amy and Tyson's veal, sweetbreads and marrow offering "the best dish for me, hands down, in 8 years."
Even the dessert was close, with Manu calling Valerie and Courtney's pistachio kulfi "refreshing" and "this is an amazing way to finish a five-course meal," while Liz Egan said Amy and Tyson's after-dinner mint sorbet "spectacular."
At the results reveal, Valerie and Courtney's menu received 52 points out of 60. Karen said their dinner was "a delicious masterclass in the use of spice." Said Valerie, ""we're proud of what we plated tonight and we're happy with that score."
Amy and Tyson received 57 points out of 60, the same point total as the sibling team of Tasia and Gracia, who won MKR last year. Amy and Tyson got perfect 10s from Karen, Liz and Pete, with Liz telling the pair, "I feel privileged to have eaten your meal tonight.”
As Tyson told WHO on the eve of the Grand Final about why he and Amy deserved to win, "I think because since the very start, we've only ever been about food. We wanted the best out of everyone, we wanted everyone in the whole competition to do really well. We just love good food. We try to push the boundaries and do crazy things and get that conversation going and I think that's a good representation of what MKR should be about. It should be about the food."
To hear more from the final two teams, including where Tyson is working now and what Courtney would love to do next, pick up the latest issue of WHO on newsstands today.