Italian Crowned American MasterChef
Italian-born Luca Manfè has won the title American MasterChef on the Fox reality TV series.
Manfè was victorious in the fourth season of the show, which featured three "super" judges: Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot.. His victory was made even sweeter because he was turned down in season three of the popular TV show, becoming the only person to return from a previous season of the series to go on and win the competition.
A restaurant manager who lives in Astoria, New York, Manfè was born in northern Italy, in Aviano, Friuli–Venezia Giulia. He moved to the USA around 10 years ago. His victory has made Italians proud and Italy’s largest producers’ association, Coldiretti, announced that Manfè’s presence on American TV may have helped boost ‘Made In Italy' exports to the USA. Coldiretti says that Italian exports to the USA have increased 8.3% in 2013 and, if the trend continues, may well prove to be record breaking this year.
Thirty-one-year-old Manfè was helped on the way to success in the semi-final when he prepared a traditional Friulian dish, frico, which his grandmother taught him how to make. Traditionally, the potato, butter and cheese dish was a way of using up leftovers. He prepared a pancetta-wrapped veal with a Grana Padano frico.
Manfè competed against Natasha Crnjac in the final for their own cookbook, a quarter of a million dollars, the MasterChef trophy and the coveted MasterChef title. They created a three-course dinner. The finalists had 10 minutes to collect ingredients from the pantry and then an hour to prepare each dish.
The final was a close contest but Manfè emerged the winner. As a starter, he prepared pan-seared duck liver with caramelised peaches, Asian pear chutney and a toasted French brioche. He followed up with tamarind and balsamic-glazed beef short ribs, with a truffle purée and sautéed chanterelle mushrooms.
Manfè concluded with a dessert of basil panna cotta with sweet tomato jam, mascarpone, honey cream and granulated basil. He told the ‘Messaggero Veneto’ that he invented the unusual dish in honour of his country of origin by referring to the colours of the Italian flag.
The latest MasterChef told ‘Messaggero Veneto’ that he will celebrate his victory by buying a vintage Vespa scooter to drive through the streets of New York. Manfè plans to open a restaurant in Mahattan and already has a name in mind for it: ‘Frico’.
Watch the video of Luca's participation at MasterChef USA: