BILLIE McKay's success on MasterChef 2015 wasn't a surprise to friends and family.
Rebecca Hambly worked with the bubbly 23-year-old for 18 months when she was a chef at the Point Restaurant and Bar at Ballina's Ramada Hotel.
"Billie is really level headed, calm and she was great at mentoring staff," Ms Hambly said.
"She was very easy to get along with and experienced at what she was doing."
When MasterChef started filming in late September 2014, Billie resigned from her job and Ms Hambly hasn't seen her since the show filmed a segment on Billie at the Point in late 2014.
"I'm blown away by how far she has come and what she's achieved on MasterChef," she said.
"I new she was great but she shown she's up there with the best now.
"We'd take her back but I don't think now it's going to be a possibility quite frankly."
Billie's mum Alison said the family had been glued to the TV at their Bowraville home watching every episode.
"It was amazing; we knew that she was a pretty good cook and had really good artistic flair so we thought she's do pretty well," she said.
"To watch her grow in confidence and do what she did towards the end we just couldn't believe it, it was amazing.
"Secretly we were thinking she could come this far but there were a lot of good cooks that tried out for the show so we knew she'd be working really hard for it."
Throughout her MasterChef 2015 journey, Mrs McKay said she had limited contact with her daughter.
"The only contact we had with Billie was through letters and she wasn't allowed to say what was going on in the house," she said.
Mrs McKay, her husband David, Billie's sisters Rosie, Georgie, Frankie and brother Joe still didn't know if she won late yesterday.
"We knew recently that she's made it to the final two, but we weren't allowed to say anything," she said.
"We still don't know who the winner is, no one knows who the winner is, only the producers.
"It's been nerve-wracking today, we've haven't been able to do anything all day, we're just hanging around waiting for MasterChef to come on."
Win or lose, Mrs McKay said Billie's future was as a chef.
"She talks about opening a restaurant in a regional area somewhere and I'm sure she'll do that," she said.
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