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MasterChef Australia: Where are the past winners now?

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Winning MasterChef Australia was only the beginning for these top chefs, with the likes of Julie Goodwin, Adam Liaw, Andy Allen, and co. proving that the popular reality show is a guaranteed recipe for success in kickstarting their culinary dreams.

WATCH NOW: MasterChef 2023 winner Brent Draper reveals what he will spend his prize money on.

From publishing sell-out cookbooks, starring in cooking shows of their own, opening their very own restaurants, training with some of the world’s best chefs, and even transitioning from contestant to judge, these MasterChef Australia winners have not taken their time on the hit show for granted.

Starting with….

Julie Goodwin was our inaugural MC winner! (Credit: Channel 10)

Julie Goodwin, season one

15 years ago, mum of three Julie Goodwin impressed the judges with her family-style cooking and took out the title of Australia’s very first MasterChef.

After her win, Julie quit her job in IT and went on to write several cookbooks, worked in both radio and TV (including a stint on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2015), and even launched her own cooking school (sign us up).

“None of this would have been possible without MasterChef,” she says. “To think I won a cooking competition and now work in breakfast radio is wonderful, and I’m really enjoying this new chapter!”

Julie returned to MasterChef in 2012 for All Stars and once more in 2022 for Fans vs Favourites where she finished 5th.

In 2024, she released her memoir ‘Your Time Starts Now’ and will also compete in Dancing with the Stars Australia.

Adam gave up a lot before becoming our season two winner. (Credit: Channel 10)

Adam Liaw, season two

Believe it or not, prior to winning MasterChef, Adam was actually working as a highly paid lawyer in Tokyo, a job which he quit to compete on the reality show.

We are sure that it comes as no surprise that Adam hasn’t looked back!

“I’ve been lucky enough that my series for SBS, Destination Flavour, has been running now for six seasons,” he said in 2018.

“I’ve also written six cookbooks, and I’m really proud of each of them.”

This celebrity chef is also a proud father of three – Christopher, Anna, and Benji – whom he shares with his wife Asami.

Adam also writes a column for Good Food Australia and Sunday Life Australia and in 2022 joined the ABC panel show Tomorrow Tonight.

In April 2021, he began starring in his own television cooking and talk series, The Cook Up with Adam Liaw. In 2023 the series aired its 500th episode, making it SBS’s largest ever commissioned program.

In May 2022 he also released a seven-part podcast series on Audible called How Taste Changed the World.

More recently he launched Everyday, a “practical dinnerware range specifically for modern life.”

Kate has utilised her win for the greater good. (Credit: Channel 10)

Kate Bracks, season three

After winning her season of MasterChef a decade ago Kate traveled the country as an ambassador for the Cancer Council’s Eat It to Beat It program.

“The life experiences have been more rewarding than the prize money,” says the mum-of-three, who’s also bought a hobby farm in Orange, NSW.

“We don’t eat off the land entirely, but the ultimate goal would be to do more of that.”

In 2012 she published a cooking book called The Sweet Life.

According to her LinkedIn profile, as of 2024, she was working as a teacher at Orange Anglican Grammar School.

Andy has gone from former winner to judge! (Credit: Channel 10)

Andy Allen, season four

This name needs no introduction… After taking out the top spot, Andy famously returned as one of the show’s judges alongside Jock Zonfrillo and Melissa Leong in 2020.

He also co-owns popular restaurant Three Blue Ducks (which has five separate locations), has written the cookbook The Next Element, and even appeared as a co-host in the 2021 series Three Blue Ducks, based on travelling across the country to seek inspiration for new dishes for his restaurant.

In 2018 his restaurant was awarded a Chef’s Hat, making Andy the first MasterChef Australia contestant to be awarded the highly sought-after honour.

In October 2022, Andy married his long-time love Alex Davey.

The lovely Emma is still gracing our screens! (Credit: Channel 10)

Emma Dean, season five

After taking out the coveted title, the former town planner has since published her own cookbook and co-hosted a daily cooking show My Market Kitchen with her 2013 MasterChef runner-up Lynton Tapp from 2013 to 2019.

“I don’t have a restaurant because I am a bit risk-averse,” she says.

“However, the show is really fun, and the best part is I get to do it with my best mate!”

She is also a regular contributor to Eat Well Magazine.

Season six winner Brent has taken his knowledge of food overseas. (Credit: Channel 10)

Brent Owens, season six

Since scooping the $250,000 prize money, Brent has travelled the world, trying to make a positive impact with his knowledge of food.

“Being exposed to starvation in foreign countries made me recognise the major flaws in the global food ecosystem,” he says.

He also wrote a cookbook, Dig In! filled to the brim with recipes for those who want to make a delicious dish with minimal effort.

Today he is a chief research and development officer at Vitrafy Life Sciences, which he co-founded six years ago while studying life science at Harvard University.

Billie had her sights set off-shore! (Credit: Channel 10)

Billie McKay, season seven

Less than a month after winning, Billie moved to England to work at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred The Fat Duck restaurant.

“Working there was fantastic, but it wasn’t what I wanted long-term,” she says, revealing her goal is to open a restaurant.

“At the moment I’m on the family farm making cheese with Mum. I’m still cooking but I don’t want to rush into anything!”

In 2022, Billie returned to the MasterChef kitchen to star alongside fellow former winner Julie in Fans vs Favourites…and WON the title for a second time around.

Talk about impressive!

Elena is a big advocate for special needs students. (Credit: Channel 10)

Elena Duggan, season eight

While she dreamed of opening a farm cafe after her win, educator Elena decided to continue her work with special needs students, teaching them leadership, hospitality skills, and home economics.

“To know I’m giving something to people who are going to be our future leaders, and giving them strength, confidence, and life skills to help them move forward, that’s been the biggest highlight,” she says.

In 2019, Elena co-hosted My Market Kitchen alongside season ten finalist Khanh Ong until they were both replaced by chef Ben O’Donoghue in 2020.

2017’s winner has found success in Australia’s foodie hot spot. (Credit: Channel 10)

Diana Chan, season nine

After winning by a single point, Diana used her prize money to open a pop-up restaurant in Melbourne, Chanteen.

“It serves authentic Malaysian street food, it’s reasonably priced and everything is cooked to order,” said Diana, who’s also designed in-flight menus for Malaysia Airlines.

“I never thought the day would come that I’d fly to London and eat my own food on the flight!” she laughed.

She hosts the Turning Point podcast about her success journey and helping others find theirs. Diana also owns pre-made dumplings and dim sims brand Golden Wok.

In 2019 Asia Unplated with Diana Chan was also launched on SBS Demand.

Most recently, she competed in the reboot of Ready, Steady, Cook.

Sashi is enjoying his fame! (Credit: Channel 10)

Sashi Cheliah, season 10

After taking out the 2018 title, Sashi has been “living the dream”.

While traveling India shortly after, he spoke to The Telegraph, where he revealed he had been given “lots of offers”.

“In the short term, I am keeping things fluid. Since winning MasterChef, I have had a lot of offers. I am trying out whatever I like,” he said.

Upon returning, he opened a series of pop-up restaurants called GAJA by Sashi. He eventually settled down in Adelaide and opened a full-time GAJA along with an express version.

Sashi also launched home chef kits called Sashi’s Secret and opened a fine-dining restaurant, The Pandan Club, in India in late 2022.

He also joined Julie and Billie for the Fans and Favourites spin-off – placing in 19th place.

Larissa is helping out at the family cafe. (Credit: Channel 10)

Larissa Takchi, season 11

At 22 years old, Larissa became the youngest-ever winner of MasterChef Australia in 2019 and was something of a dessert queen.

But the budding chef decided to keep things close to home by helping out at her family’s cafe, Wildpear in the northwest Sydney suburb of Dural.

Spoiler alert: We’ve eaten there and it’s as delicious as you would imagine!

Following her win five years ago Larissa married her partner Luke and they have welcomed their first child into the world.

She also has an active presence on social media where she shares her recipes with her tens of thousands of followers.

Emelia was the All Stars champ. (Credit: Channel 10)

Emelia Jackson, season 12

Emelia took out the toughest season of MasterChef to date in Back To Win, an All-Stars edition of the series.

After placing third in season six in 2014, Emelia returned and beat out bestie Laura Sharrad and dessert king Reynold Poernomo for the top prize.

Despite the huge win, Emelia kept her celebration small, mostly thanks to Melbourne’s strict second-wave lockdown.

“I’m in Melbourne so it was just me and my boyfriend Craig and then we had my family on Zoom,” she told our sister publication Now To Love.

“I planned a viewing party, but we’re in lockdown again, so I had to cancel it. It was what it was, but it was still so exciting.”

Since her win, she has welcomed a daughter in 2021 and a son in 2023, and has become an ambassador for Queen Fine Foods.

She also released her first book, First, Cream the Butter and Sugar, in November 2022. 

Justin cooked his way to victory in 2021. (Credit: Channel 10)

Justin Narayan, season 13

He was a fan favourite early on and Justin Narayan cooked his way to victory in 2021, beating runners-up Pete Campbell and Kishwar Chowdhury.

To make matters even sweeter, not long after his win, Justin tied the knot with his fiancée Esther in a stunning ceremony that was also attended by several of his MasterChef co-stars.

“It was genuinely the best day of my life; winning MasterChef was awesome but getting married was a huge highlight – it’s been a crazy year, so who knows what’s next,” Justin told our sister publication TV WEEK.

In the time since his exciting victory, he has been busy creating digital recipe content for his social media accounts to share with his followers.

Two years on from his win, Justin revealed to Yahoo that he didn’t spend any of his prize money on himself, instead donating it to those in need.

“I probably should have, in retrospect.”

“But I was kind of like, I’m not going to buy anything flash, I’m not going to do anything, and I don’t have any regrets with it. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Why did I give it away, I could’ve bought this now,’ but at the same time, I never wanted the money to control me. I always want to be generous with it. There’s heaps more where it came from. Just be generous, keep helping people, and things work out.”

“The way I’m wired, I wanted to be generous with it, so I ended up donating a lot of it and giving some away to some people that I thought needed it more than me. And then made some investments with the rest of it,” he added. 

The former AFL player wowed the judges and Australia. (Credit: Channel 10)

Nick Riewoldt, Celebrity MasterChef

Special mentions to the winner of Celebrity MasterChef 2021, former AFL player Nick Riewoldt.

The athlete was able to give the $100,000 cash prize to his charity, Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision, which he co-founded after the tragic passing of his sister Maddie in 2015.

Brent made a triumphant return to MasterChef in 2023 after choosing to leave the competition only two years prior (Credit: Channel Ten)

Brent Draper, season 15 

After ten nail-biting weeks and 50 episodes, father of two Brent Draper was crowned the winner for MasterChef 2023. 

Almost two months on, Brent took to his Instagram stories to reveal what he would be spending his $250,000 prize money on. 

“Obviously, I bought a boat, everyone knows that,” Brent joked. 

“That was the one little thing that I spent on for myself…”

“The rest we [he and wife Shonleigh] are going to put into business and just set up our lives!”

In September 2023, Brent and his wife launched their podcast Behind the Drapes where they discuss all things marriage, MasterChef, parenting, travel, business, and more.

Gareth Whitton was Australia’s first ever ‘Dessert Master’ (Credit: Channel Ten)

Gareth Whitton, MasterChef Dessert Masters

For the inaugural season of MasterChef Dessert Masters in 2023, it was renowned pastry chef and Tarts Anon founder Gareth Whitton who emerged victorious, beating out MasterChef alumni Jess Liemantara and Reynold Poernomo in the finale.

In the year since his win, Gareth is still busy making pastries at Tarts Anon and is set to release his first cookbook Tarts Anon: Sweet and Savoury Tart Brilliance in July 2024. 

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