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Before she was named the winner of MasterChef: Back to Win Dara Yu thought she’d leave with fond memories of being on the show. And Yu didn’t think she was going to win.

But that’s not what happened.

In an emotional moment, judge Gordon Ramsay announced that Yu won MasterChef: Back to Win Season 12 and Yu remembers … nothing.

“Seriously, I blanked,” she recalled to Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “Like I blacked out. You’re standing there, and when I was on [MasterChef] Juniors it was just me and Alexander [Weiss]. But this time I was standing there with Christian [Green] and Michael [Silverstein] and all three of us had been through so much this season.”

Dara Yu mentally prepared to lose ‘MasterChef: Back to Win’

Even though Yu returned to MasterChef with the goal of coming “back to win” she mentally went into defense mode in case she didn’t leave victorious. “To get to the final point, I was mentally preparing myself to not hear my name,” she admitted. “I feel like you have to do that to get there.”

Dara Yu won 'MasterChef: Back to Win' and proudly holds the trophy over her head while surrounded by her family
Dara Yu | FOX

Once Ramsay said she won it took a minute for the news to sink in, Yu recalled. “But as soon as I heard my name, it took me a second. It felt like a weight was lifted. And then it took me a second to come back and be like, oh my gosh, I won! But I mean, it’s an incredible, you know, indescribable feeling.”

Dara explains how she stayed in the zone on ‘MasterChef: Back to Win’

The MasterChef: Back to Win finalists invited friends and family to sit in the audience and cheer on their favorite chef. Yu said she could feel the love, but it also added to her stress.

“So little fun fact because they show like my mom and at the time, my boyfriend was there, I had 13 people there!” she laughed. “Because I’m L.A. based and a lot of my friends and family are in L.A. They needed people to, like, fill the audience and stuff. So a majority of the people who were in that side section were we’re my friends and family. So that led to more pressure.”

“I was actually happy that I was in that middle section or in the front because I just had to face the judges and everyone else was on both sides of me,” she noted. “But also when I’m in the kitchen and especially under pressure like that, I kind of get blinders and just get into my zone. And I had really mentally prepared myself for that finale. So I knew what I had to do and did it!”

Dara compares MasterChef Juniors to Back to Win

Without a doubt, Yu is an impressive and accomplished chef. But adding in the fact she was only 20 years old when she competed makes winning MasterChef: Back to Win even sweeter. She was only 12 years old when she competed on MasterChef Junior and she reflected on the differences competing this time.

“It was tough,” she admitted about the adult competition. “I really didn’t know what to expect, but I wouldn’t say it was a disadvantage. I actually would say that it was almost an advantage that I didn’t really know what I was like going into with the adults because I didn’t have many expectations. And so every challenge was new to me and the whole process. And so I kind of just took it as it came and did my best. But yeah, it was a lot more pressure that I think was self-inflicted. I put on myself, but also from the judges and other contestants, it was more competitive because of the nature of the competition.”

“And not as much on Juniors,” Yu added. “They just try to really have fun with the kids and help them get through every challenge. So yeah, definitely a different experience, but grateful for both and learned so much about myself going through both processes.”

What’s next for Dara Yu?

Yu realized that she works well under pressure and the deep breathing exercises she practiced during the season worked well for her.


‘MasterChef: Back to Win’: Gordon Ramsay’s Tortellini Take Down Is Blowing Everyone’s Mind [Exclusive Clip]

Yu won the coveted title of MasterChef and $250,000. The future is looking very bright for this young chef. “In the immediate future, I’m working on some projects and hopefully I’ll be able to cook for the public and my fans,” she said.

“I have a passion for teaching. I’m a culinary instructor at a school in L.A.” she shared. “And so I would love to kind of have an outlet through media, through a show, or to do some type of content to continue kind of showing and sharing my passion and experiences and the food.” Fans can follow Yu on Instagram and Twitter.