By Liz Thomas
Last updated at 1:32 PM on 28th April 2011
American Tim Anderson has been crowned the youngest ever winner of BBC1's Masterchef after a nail-biting finale.
The 26-year-old was hailed as 'inventive' and 'incredible' by judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
He beat finalists Tom Whitaker and Sara Danesin to take this year's title, in what has been described as the closest since the competition returned to screens in 2005.
Winner: American Tim Anderson has been crowned the winner of this year's Masterchef
The 11-week series has been the BBC's most successful yet with an average of 5.2 million watching each week.
His winning menu which he had to serve to Torode and Wallace was billed as a global extravaganza.
Mr Anderson's menu consisted of a starter of Tri-City Sliders, made up of The Los Angeles Slider of Wagyu Tartare, Smoky Lime and Jalapeo Marmalade, Avocado and Butter Bean Mousse, The Tokyo Slider of Monkfish Liver, Umeboshi Ketchup, Jellied Ponzu, Matcha Mayonnaise and The London Slider of Curried Lamb Cheeseburger, Apple and Ale Chutney, Raita Mayonnaise.
He then cooked a main of Kyushu-Style Pork Ramen with Truffled Lobster, Gyoza and Aromatic Oils, and delivered three popular British desserts with a twist - Sticky Toffee Crme Brulee with Blackcurrant Stout Sauce, Rhubarb Crumble with Custard and Cheddar Cheesecake with Whiskey Jelly.
Rising star: The 26-year-old was hailed as 'inventive' and 'incredible' by judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace
He said: 'Tom and Sara are outstanding cooks and I never really thought I had a chance to beat either of them. Looking back on all the amazing cooks that left before me, it is really quite humbling to have come out on top.
'Humbling but super awesome at the same time. Really, it is such a good feeling. I'm very proud of the accomplishment and I'm just so glad that John and Gregg liked my food.'
Mr Anderson, who lives in North London with his wife of three years Laura, currently manages a craft beer bar near Euston train station in the capital but revealed his long term goal was to have a restaurant empire.
He added: 'The big long term goal is to have an empire, hopefully including several regional Japanese restaurants and an American-style brewpub.
'But for the moment I'm really anxious to get into some professional kitchens and work in whatever capacity I can.
'Closest final yet': He beat Tom Whitaker and Sara Danesin to take this year's title
'I still have so much to learn about how a kitchen and a restaurant operates, from nuts and bolts things like butchery and knife skills and sauces up to ordering, accounting, and staffing.
'Then I'll be ready to open a restaurant that focuses on the cuisine of southern Japan while still allowing a few creative, personal dishes.'
He was commended by both judges for his adventurous style of cooking, which was inspired by a variety of international styles.
Torode said: 'I think all three [finalists] were amazing but Tim was in a different world altogether. He had influences from Norway, Japan, America, Australia and the UK.
That all coming together gave us the best culinary explosion that we've ever seen in MasterChef.'
Wallace added: 'Inventive is one thing but inventive and delicious is nothing short of incredible.'
This year 20 contestants battled to win the competition and had to complete a number of challenges including travelling 10,000 miles to Australia to cook lunch in a pre-historic rainforest; cater their own food for a wedding in the 35C heat and also a very special three-course lunch designed by John Torode for a select group of his most important mentors, cooking at three of New York's finest restaurants and serving an exquisite three-course menu designed by two Michelin-starred chef John Campbell to other high profile chefs.
Ratings winner: This season of Masterchef has been the BBC's most successful yet with an average of 5.2 million watching each week
Mr Anderson grew up in Racine, Wisconsin, before moving to California to go to college aged 18.
He said: 'When I was growing up food was not that important to the family, and we kind of ate what was quick and cheap to prepare. That all started to change when my brother and I grew up and my mum stopped working full time.'
He added that he became interested in cooking when he moved to Japan in his early twenties and was encouraged to try new and varied things.
This year's series got off to a rocky start after viewers complained that executives had dumbed down the show by including an "X Factor-style" auditions phase but the audience response has improved over the course of the run.
The original Masterchef, fronted by Grossman, ran for 11 years before it was axed in 2001 because of dwindling ratings.
Grossman left in 2000 but left after the BBC overhauled the format and moved it from Sunday evenings to week nights.
Gary Rhodes was brought in as a replacement presenter but the show failed to take off.
In 2005 it was brought back on BBC2 initially as Masterchef Goes Large with new hosts Torode and Wallace.
It proved such a success that the corporation also introduced spin-off shows Junior Masterchef and Celebrity Masterchef, as well as a live tour.
Last year the series was moved to prime time BBC1 after seeing its ratings soar.
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