He may have been crowned Australia's next MasterChef after claiming a thrilling victory in Wednesday's grand finale, but the reality of his coveted win is yet to sink in for apprentice electrician Andy Allen.
"I've heard the audio thousands of times, seen the actual visual on TV thousands of times and it still does not sink in," an awe-struck Allen told AAA yesterday. "I never thought it would happen, I was pretty much in shock."
As a self-confessed "disgraceful" cook who began dabbling in the kitchen just a few years before entering the show, Allen started out as MasterChef's "underdog" and, slowly but surely, picked up his game in the remaining weeks of the competition to unearth his culinary prowess.
"I think personally (looking at) my progression through the competition and where I started, there was no chance I would have been able to do that at the start," he said. "So I think that's why the public embraced me so much because what Aussie doesn't love an underdog."
But it was beating odds-on favourite Audra Morrice then trumping Brisbane cupcake queen Julia Taylor in the Christine Manfield dessert challenge during the finale that has helped cement Allen's status as a talented cook.
And even despite his win - where he landed a cookbook deal, training in some of Australia's top restaurants and $100,000 - the 24-year-old remains humble and even vowed to keep his promise to fellow contestant and friend Ben Milbourne to split his cash winnings.
"I can't actually remember what that amount was, he seems to think 50-50," Allen laughed.
Though he dismissed reports that he turned down an offer from judge Matt Preston to do his own TV show, insisting it was "more of a joke than anything", Allen's next goal is to release his cookbook.
He will then begin filming for Ten's next cooking series, MasterChef All Stars, before taking on his offer of restaurant work experience.
Then, once he has additional culinary training under his belt, he plans to head to Mexico with Milbourne to learn more about local and regional fare before heading home to consider opening a Mexican/Australian-style restaurant."I think we can probably combine both our skills, Ben is amazing with his Mexican flavours," he said. "I'm sure once I go to Mexico I'll be up to scratch as well and to combine my modern Australian twist I think we could do something pretty special."
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