MasterChef: Back to Win winner Dara Yu on what she’s been up to since historic MasterChef win (and her favorite TV shows)

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Dara in the “Back to Win: Bake to Win” episode airing Wednesday, July 27 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX.
MASTERCHEF: Contestant Dara in the “Back to Win: Bake to Win” episode airing Wednesday, July 27 (9:01-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX. /

The latest season of MasterChef has come to an end. FOX’s MasterChef: Back to Win crowned a winner on Sept. 15, and what a historic victory it was! Our new Master Chef is MasterChef: Junior contestant Dara Yu! We recently caught up with Dara to chat about her big win, what she’s been up to, her favorite TV shows, and more!

Dara Yu participated in MasterChef: Junior season 1. That’s right, the very first season of the super popular series. Then 12-years-old, Dara came super close to winning, finishing the season as the runner-up. The young chef returned in MasterChef: Back to Win for another chance at the title and came out victorious.

Let’s catch up with our favorite chef…

*Please note the interview below has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview with MasterChef: Back to Win winner, Dara Yu

Hidden Remote: Going into the finale, I felt like I would have been happy for any of the three finalist. But I had a special spot in my foodie heart for you because it’s such a historic win! You’ve come full circle.

Dara Yu: Yeah, no 100% it’s been a crazy journey.

Hidden Remote: How was it watching your season back, if you’ve seen it! Have you watched your winning episode?

Dara Yu: Yes! I had a nice, big viewing party last night for the big finale. There were like over 200 people there. It was great to be able to watch and celebrate this moment with all my closest family and friends. I’ve watched the whole season as well, so it’s been interesting.

Hidden Remote: Did they know you were going to win? The people at your watch party?

Dara Yu: No. Only the people who were at the finale knew that I won. So I had to keep a poker face. And obviously, everyone was asking me like “hey, did you win?  you won, right? And I was like, you’ll have to wait!

Hidden Remote: But how did you do it? I mean, I don’t know, I have such a big mouth when it comes to secrets. Did you hide or did avoid certain situations?

Dara Yu: No, I just feel I’ve had 10 months to prepare. It’s been 10 months since we filmed the finale. And there’s NDAs and everything that I signed. I just, I think I also didn’t want to ruin this surprise for anyone and I knew that it would be so much more meaningful and a bigger surprise if  everyone just found out at the moment.

Hidden Remote: What would you tell Junior Dara if you could give her a quick call right after she was eliminated.

Dara Yu: I think the talk I give to her would just be to keep going and don’t doubt yourself or question the path that you’re on and every step that you’re going to take in the next eight years will lead up to a big moment. Work hard and don’t worry about too much.

Hidden Remote: Now, I don’t know if it’s the editing of the show, but in every challenge, you seem to be stressing! Is it just a super stressful experience? 

Dara Yu: It is very stressful and there’s a ton of pressure on us. You know, I coach myself through the challenges, I do a lot of heavy breathing, deep heavy breathing. I think it’s a coping mechanism to regulate my nervous system during challenges.

Hidden Remote: What have you been up to since winning? Catch us up!

Dara Yu: Since I won, and in the past in the last 10 months, I’ve moved back to L.A. I was in New York before I was in the show, but I’m now back in L.A. and a chef instructor at The Gourmandise School, a recreational cooking school in Santa Monica. I teach there and I’m also working on a ton of projects to do some pop ups. I also I turned 21 since the show aired, so I’m learning to, you know, navigate being a 21-year-old.

MASTERCHEF: Contestant Dara in the “Season Finale Pt. 2” episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, Sep. 14 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2022 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: FOX. /

Hidden Remote: That’s awesome! Oh, and happy late birthday! What’s a tasty dish an inexperienced cook, like myself, could pull off? If I wanted to impress someone. 

Dara Yu: I think that short ribs. Making or learning how to make braised short ribs or a braised beef dish is really impressive. I like to do mine in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot, which takes like 45 minutes, but you can also do some slow braise beef and just really layer your flavors with celery and onions and carrots and a ton of spices. And I think a dish like that, you put it into one pot, you put it in the oven, and it creates this really impressive meal. That’s my go-to for dinner parties, with some potatoes! It’s a dish that everyone loves.

Hidden Remote: Ooh, yeah! And you can’t go wrong with potatoes! Now, since we’re Hidden Remote, I have to ask — what are your favorite shows on TV or streaming? What are you watching right now?

Dara Yu: I’m actually a fan of reality shows. I love Housewives and Selling Sunset. I was Selling Sunset and think, I could do that! Like, I could sell $5 million dollar homes, sure! [laughs] And recently I’ve been enjoying Only Murders in the BuildingMy all time favorite show, though, has to be Gossip Girl, the original! But yeah, all the Netflix cooking shows, Chef’s Table, all of Gordon Ramsay shows. I don’t have a ton of time to watch TV, but that’s what I watch when I do.

Hidden Remote: About Gordon…my second favorite episode is the restaurant takeover because I just love to see him lose it and go crazy on everyone. But is he a total sweetheart in real life?

Dara Yu: The takeover episode, yeah! [laughs] Gordon is one of the kindest souls, he’s the most impressive person just all around. He’s so attentive. Every interaction I’ve had with him, he makes you feel like he’s giving you his attention. But yeah, he’s terrifying in the kitchen.

Hidden Remote: Finally, what snacks would you recommend if you’re sitting down for a long TV series binge watch? 

Dara Yu: Definitely some popcorn! And a good drink. I always have a smoothie when I’m watching shows. Also salt and pepper chips.

Hidden Remote: What flavor smoothie?

Dara Yu: I do this like kale, avocado, and mango smoothie. That’s my go-to. Or pina colada!

Rewatch season 12 of MasterChef (and all seasons before it) on Hulu or fuboTV

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