updated 09/10/2012 AT 2:15 PM ET
•originally published 09/10/2012 AT 10:30 PM ET
MasterChef judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot started season 3 by inviting 100 home cooks to Los Angeles to show off their best dishes. After weeks of intense competition and countless flavorful foods, only two remained, Josh Marks and Christine Ha, the show’s first blind contestant.
So who took home the prizes – including $250,000 and a cook book deal – on Monday’s finale? Keep reading to find out. Spoilers ahead!
After reuniting with loved ones, the finalists had two hours to cook three courses: an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert.
Josh prepared an ambitious and sophisticated meal of butter-poached lobster with grits and sweet potato puree, a rack of lamb with green curry sauce, spring peas and carrots and bacon-crusted pecan pie with vanilla cinnamon ice cream.
The judges appreciated his complex and difficult dishes but were disappointed in his lobster, which they said was undercooked.
Christine went for elevated Asian comfort food, preparing a Thai papaya salad with crab and mixed vegetables, braised pork belly with rice, crispy kale and maitake mushrooms topped with a quail egg and coconut lime sorbet with a ginger tuile.
Though she didn’t have the presentation and complexity of her competitor, the judges admired the balance of her meal and her impeccable execution.
And the judges named Christine the winner in what they called the toughest decision in MasterChef history.
“I just can’t believe that I’m the MasterChef,” a tearful Christine said as she celebrated her win. “This has been them most amazing experience. After all the obstacles I’ve been through, going up against such awesome amazing cooks … I’m living proof that dreams come true against all odds.”