Christchurch local Emily Taylor has sifted, stirred and baked her way to the top, and was tonight crowned Chelsea New Zealand's Hottest Home baker in the hit show's season finale on 3.
Out of the 1000 baker hopefuls who auditioned, eight were chosen to compete over eight episodes for the coveted title.
In tonight's action-packed episode, finalists Esme Dawson and Emily Taylor faced off in front of the judges in a five hour marathon that showcased the wide range of skills they had developed throughout the competition.
The theme of the final was 'High Tea', with finalists tasked with preparing at least 10 mini items to be presented to judges, Julia Crownshaw and Dean Brettschnider. When the timer hit zero, Dawson had created an impressive array of over 16 different finger foods, with Taylor making 14. During the judge's deliberation, it was clear that both finalists were strong contenders for the title.
"Esme's been there from day one, she's been quite consistent, very confident," Brettschneider said during the episode. "There were a couple of times throughout that process of the weeks where she fell down a little bit, where she wasn't so confident. That's because she was outside the comfort zone."
Crownshaw felt that Emily had shown learning in the final challenge: "She's taken on board what we've said, we've seen her change the way she approaches her challenges and how she's baking. I'm impressed with that."
Despite Brettschneider acknowledging it was "very very neck-and-neck" in the end it was Taylor who took out the top prize.
As well as the title Emily takes home a trip of a lifetime to Singapore, compliments of Mondo Travel, flying Singapore airlines, staying at the Park Royal Hotel and training under judge Dean Brett Schneider at his artisan eatery, Baker & Cook; a brand new kitchen from Kitchen Mania with a Mico sink and tap-ware; appliances from Fisher & Paykel and Breville; bake-ware from Stevens; and a selection of Chelsea Sugar products.
Emily Taylor said: "I just can't believe it. I said throughout that I was Chelsea New Zealand's Hottest Home Baker, but I knew that the competition was tough and it could have been anyone's. Esme may have appeared flustered at the beginning of the challenge, but she triumphed and brought out a beautiful tower of treats. The judges obviously had a very tough decision to make, and I don't envy them!"
"I'm most excited about going to Singapore to study under Dean, as he was a support and an inspiration throughout the competition," Taylor says. "I'll have to take my husband with me - if we can get a babysitter!"
Sue Woodfield, Head of Factual Production at MediaWorks congratulated Emily on behalf of TV3:
"This year's competition has been the best yet. Emily did a fantastic job to out-bake her competition. She is a hugely deserving winner."
The third season of the popular show has been the highest rating, with the first seven episodes attracting an average audience of 297.300 viewers (5+ demographic), a 42% increase on the 209.900 who tuned in for series two.
In TV3's target 25-54 demographic, the first seven episodes of the current series attracted an average audience of 179, 100 a 49% increase on the 2011 average of 119,900.
Chelsea New Zealand's Hottest Home Baker is hosted by Colin Mathura-Jeffree, with judges Julia Crownshaw and Dean Brettschnider. It is produced by Eyeworks Television for TV3.
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