MasterChef crowned Whitney Miller its first winner during Wednesday night's two-hour finale broadcast of the new Fox culinary competition for amateur home cooks.

"I'm so excited and I just want to tell everybody that you know what, if you have a dream go after it.  My dream the title of America's first MasterChef and I can not be any more happy than I am right now!" the perky 22-year-old college student from Poplarville, MS gushed after her victory.

"It's just indescribable!  I don't even know how to explain how happy I am right now."

As MasterChef's first-season winner, Whitney will receive $250,000 and a cookbook publishing deal.

Whitney defeated David Miller, a 29-year-old software engineer from Newton Centre, MA, to win MasterChef's first-season title.

"I'm beyond proud of myself.  Even having the opportunity to even cook for these guys, to show them I do have what it takes," David said.  "But wow, next to that one, she puts me to shame and I know she's going to build that catering business that she's always wanted."

Whitney and David advanced to MasterChef's final cookoff after they defeated Lee Knaz and Sheetal Bhagat, respectively, in a pair of head-to-head semifinal cookoffs.

David and Sheetal's cookoff required them to each prepare three classic dishes of the judges' choosing in a total of two hours.

MasterChef judge Joe Bastianich asked them to each prepare veal milanese, while fellow judges Graham Elliot and Gordon Ramsay requested a slice of apple pie and clam chowder.

Although Graham deemed Sheetal's traditional flaky apple pie to be better than David's cupcake-like individual apple pie dish, Gordon and Joe judged David's veal milanese and clam chowder dishes to be superior than Sheetal's versions, advancing him to the final cookoff.

"Sheetal, you've been amazing," Gordon told Sheetal, a 37-year-old teacher from Chicago, IL, after she was eliminated from MasterChef.  "That level of love, passion, that you have with food doesn't end here -- you must continue that journey."

Sheetal pledged to fulfill Gordon's request.
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"My experience here at MasterChef has been life-changing for me as a cook," she said.  "I'm definitely grown as a cook, so I'm taking that with me."

Like David and Sheetal's cookoff, Whitney and Lee's cookoff gave them two hours to create three classic dishes requested by the judges.

Joe requested chicken parmesan while Graham and Gordon asked for eggs benedict and cheesecake.

While Graham found Lee's eggs benedict which featured prosciutto on a potato latke to be better than Whitney's version with asparagus on a crispy grit cake, Joe and Gordon judged Whitney's stuffed chicken parmesan and no-bake cheesecake dishes to have exceeded Lee's corresponding rolled and baked versions, advancing her to the final cookoff.

"Lee, you've gone through one hell of a journey.  That is an amazing cheesecake and you know damn well you hold a future in this industry.  That is a cheesecake to be proud of," Gordon told Lee, a 27-year-old bartender from Venice, CA, after his elimination.  "You hold the most amazing future -- grab it with both hands."

"This whole experience just strengthens my belief that I did find my calling in life," Lee said.   "It showed me that I have the potential -- that I have the talent -- to really grab it and make the most of it.  And that's exactly what I'm going to be working on."

For their finale faceoff, Whitney and David were each given 90 minutes to prepare three dishes -- an appetizer, an entree and a dessert -- of their own choosing for the judges.

Whitney prepared sweet shrimp on a crispy corncake with turnip green pesto, buttermilks chicken with creamed collard greens, and bread pudding with raspberry coulis and white chocolate sauce for the judges.  David countered with sea scallop ceviche with cream of fresh pea soup, beef Wellington with foie gras mousse and mushroom duxelle, and a nectarine crepe suzette.

Fox renewed MasterChef for a second season last week.