Chelsea Winter says a multi-layered trifle recreated by her and Ana Schwarz at the climax of last night's tense MasterChef finale "came from the depths of hell".
Chelsea, a 27-year-old Auckland marketing executive, was crowned the winner of the third season of the reality show after beating Ana - a 39-year-old mother-of-three - over four challenges in a nail-biting conclusion.
Just one point separated the pair when they were given their final task: Recreating a "torturous" trifle that involved cooking and then presenting layers of mousse, marquise, sponge, several fruit gels, fresh fruit, sherbet, meringue and cherry spheres in a tall glass.
Despite under-cooking her meringue and mixing up a layer, the show's judges awarded the challenge to Chelsea thanks to her superior presentation, giving her the MasterChef title 77 points to 73.
Chelsea told nzherald.co.nz the "triflezilla", designed by Euro executive chef Eugene Hamilton to be done in three hours, was one of the season's toughest.
"I wasn't exactly hungry after that challenge," she said.
"I'm pretty sure Eugene just conjured it up out of the depths of hell."
In an interview with Fairfax, a disappointed Ana said she thought she would be crowned the winner as she finished the trifle challenge ahead of Chelsea.
"They gave us a time extension, which made me feel like I could have got through because I was about 15 minutes ahead of Chelsea," she said.
"It was really close and I thought I had done enough on the day to win. But it's one of those things, it's a reality TV show. And I'm so happy for Chelsea."
A statement released by TVNZ said the pair both failed to finish the challenge in the alloted time and were offered a time extension allowing them to plate the dish properly.
Chelsea said she also found an Asian food challenge in Singapore difficult, after a storm broke out in the middle of it.
"That Singapore challenge in the thunderstorm really swayed me and I was all over the place. That was the one that really resonates as the worst for me."
That challenge also sparked a "narking" scandal when contestant Tony Price dobbed Chelsea and Ana in for swapping ingredients.
Chelsea said she and Tony had become good friends and there were no grudges between the pair.
"We're all over it. It wasn't an issue for me. I still don't see it as an issue. Tony came over and cooked me dinner the other night," she said.
The 27-year-old planned to use her win to pursue a career in the food industry.
"My ultimate goal is to have my own travel cooking show. I've still got heaps to learn and lots to experience and I'm just ready for it, ready to get stuck in."By Chris Schulz @chris__schulz Email Chris