Courtney Lapresi crowned "MasterChef" winner
Philadelphia resident earns the fifth season trophy, a cookbook deal and the $250,000 grand prize
Tonight, season five of "MasterChef" came to an unforgettable conclusion as host, executive producer and judge Gordon Ramsay and fellow judges Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot named Courtney Lapresi the winner of FOX's hit home cooking competition series. Lapresi, 25, is an aerial dancer from Philadelphia. In addition to earning the "MasterChef" title, she walked away with a cookbook deal and the $250,000 grand prize.
Video: Watch Courtney's reaction and listen to her describe the journey
"Winning 'MasterChef' unlocks the door to all possibilities for me," Courtney said. "This title not only changes my life, but also my family's life, and I hope to pursue my dreams of creating the foundation for a business that will be successful for years to come. I look forward to writing my cookbook, which will be inspired by my family, and to continue my transition from 'home cook' to 'chef.' I am grateful for the support and encouragement that I have received throughout this journey."
"Courtney impressed us from the beginning," Ramsay said. "She never played it safe; she took risks; and when the pressure was high, she showed us that she could handle it. That's what makes a 'MasterChef.' "
Bastianich added, "Courtney emerged as a top contender from the onset of the season, firmly holding her place amongst the upper echelon of the contestants right through to the end. Facing such an extraordinary level of competition this season, I have no doubt that Courtney will successfully handle the rigors of the professional culinary world with grace and tenacity."
"This was clearly a very competitive 'MasterChef' season, filled with an impressive group of home cooks, and appropriately it came down to a nail-biter of a finale," Elliot said. "Leslie and Elizabeth had great runs, but it was Courtney who shined brightest in the end. She's capable of doing some great things in the culinary world, and I'm truly excited to see what she's able to accomplish."
In tonight's season finale, Courtney competed in a culinary showdown with Elizabeth Cauvel, a 31-year-old advertising executive from Brooklyn. For the final challenge, Courtney created an elevated three-course meal: an appetizer of crispy pig ear with dandelion fennel salad; a main course of sumac duck breast with spring vegetables and farro; and a cherry meringue with chocolate and almonds for dessert. In the end, it was Courtney's sophisticated European flavors and techniques that won over the judges and earned her the "MasterChef" title.
This season, Courtney was the first home cook to earn a white apron and advance to the "MasterChef" kitchen. In addition to winning two mystery box challenges and having one of the top three dishes in four mystery box challenges, she also presented one of the top dishes in each of the three pressure tests she competed in, making her the most consistently successful home cook across all challenges.
Nearing the end of its fifth season, "MasterChef" ranks as the season's No. 1 cooking show on television in Adults 18-49 and Total Viewers.
"MasterChef" is once again giving talented home cooks the chance to prove they have what it takes to make their marks on the culinary world. Auditions for season six continue in the following cities: Cleveland and San Antonio (Sept. 20); Atlanta and New Orleans (Sept. 27); New York City and Miami (Oct. 4); Chicago and Memphis (Oct. 11); and Los Angeles (Oct. 18). Visit www.masterchefcasting.com/ to pre-register and for the most up-to-date audition information.
Fans can "Like" "MasterChef" on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MasterChef. Follow the series on Twitter @MASTERCHEFonFOX and join the discussion at #masterchef.
"MasterChef": Pictured, from left, judges Joe Bastianich, Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot congratulate season five winner Courtney. (FOX photo)