What MasterChef Winners Have Spent Their $250K Prize Money On

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MasterChef Australia winners Justin Narayan, Julie Goodwin and Larissa Takchi
Starting a high-profile food career is no easy feat, but MasterChef Australia has helped make this dream a reality for many Aussies.
Since it first began in 2009, the reality TV cooking show has helped amateur home cooks nail some of the most intricate culinary techniques, gain public exposure and of course, the confidence to launch a professional career in this space. For those who've won over the past 15 seasons, the hefty cash prize hasn't gone astray in helping them chase their dream.
From opening restaurants to writing cookbooks and donating to charity, each MasterChef winner has found their own purpose to put their $250,000 prize money towards. While some of the contestants have been less vocal about where their dollars went, others have openly shared what they did with the cash prize — and we've rounded up those answers here.

Brent Draper, Season 15

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Brent Draper
Brent Draper won the 2023 season, beating Rhiannon Anderson in a dramatic finale.
As someone who loves fishing and the great outdoors, he said the first thing he'll spend some of the winnings on is a brand-new boat.
"Look, it's it's a massive amount of money and it's going to set the little family up big time," Draper told Refinery29 Australia. "Obviously I've gotta give myself a little present, so I'm gonna get a little boat for myself.
"I've been capped by the wife on how much I can spend, which is fair enough," he laughed, acknowledging that the money will definitely help when expectant Shonleigh gives birth to their second child.
"I also really want to do a cookbook, with mental health [content] in that book. So, the funds are going to really help me boost that up and get that going."

Justin Narayan, Season 13

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After winning the 2021 season, Justin Narayan distributed the money to others instead of spending it on himself.
"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 recently told Yahoo.
"I actually didn't spend any of it [on myself]. 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."
The youth pastor also explained that there's a bit of a wait until the dollars actually hit his band account, describing the waiting period as "maybe like two or three months [after the show]".
Narayan got married shortly after claiming victory on MasterChef, and has gone on to do brand collaborations, food trucks and cooking demos.

Larissa Takchi, Season 11

When Larissa Takchi won the 2019 season of MasterChef, she immediately immersed herself into getting more industry experience, and didn't plan to spend her cash prize right away.
"I can’t trust myself. I’m so tempted to spend it on a food holiday so I’ve decided to lock it away somewhere I can’t access it until I really need it for my food dream," she told Delicious at the time.
"What I want to do is buy a block of land in Dural – which is where I’m from – and build a farm and restaurant on it, so diners can really experience farm-to-table dining."
While it doesn't appear that she's done this just yet, Takchi has continued working at her family's Dural eatery called Wildpear Cafe, and has since gotten married and had a baby.

Sashi Cheliah, Season 10

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Former prison officer Sashi Cheliah used the prize money towards opening his Adelaide-based restaurant, Gaja by Sashi.
It looks like his prize winnings only paid for a proportion of his business venture, with Cheliah recently telling Yahoo, "Actually, $250,000 is not enough to set up a restaurant or a business of what I was planning to do".
The father of two has since expanded his empire, with another restaurant under his belt called GAJA Express, as well as his own range of home cooking kits called Sashi’s Secret.

Brent Owens, Season 6

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Brent Owens proved he's a man of his word, choosing to give $50,000 of his winnings to runner-up Emelia Jackson. The pair had made a deal that if either of them won, they'd give the other $50k.
He went on to write a cookbook called Dig In! and has since co-founded biotech company, Vitrafy Life Sciences, where he sits on the board.

Kate Bracks, Season 3

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When Kate Bracks won the grand finale, the prize money was actually only $100,000, along with a book deal. She said that the money was just the icing on the cake, in addition to the cooking skills and connections she developed during the competition.
"The life experiences have been more rewarding than the prize money," she told Woman's Day at the time.
She also bought a hobby farm in Orange, NSW.

Julie Goodwin, Season 1

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When Julie Goodwin defeated Poh Ling Yeow in MasterChef's first ever Aussie season in 2009, she also won $100,000 and a book deal.
While she hasn't opened up about what she spent her winnings on, it's likely that some of the cash went towards her own cooking school, Julie's Place, which is still operating.
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