MasterChef Grant Gillon Wins Season 13 With A Mix Of Midwest And Italian Flavors - Exclusive

Grant Gillon has officially been named the winner of FOX's "MasterChef: United Tastes of America," beating out 20 other contestants for the ultimate title. Every competitor on the series was repping their own region and Gillon told us in an exclusive interview that he felt really proud to bring home the trophy to Iowa.

"To come out on top, it's surreal, to say the absolute least," he admitted. "I am really proud of how I held myself together. I had a little blip right away in my appetizer, but fought right back and finished out really strong with my entrée and dessert."

In the finale, Gillon impressed culinary icons Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez, and Joe Bastianich, with his mix of Midwestern and Italian fare that featured an appetizer of creamy raviolo al uovo, an entrée of perfectly cooked pork medallions and fennel, and a decadent dessert of coffee and beer-infused torn stout cake. He explained that his unique food fusion comes from growing up in Iowa and watching his grandmother from Sicily, Italy, in the kitchen.

"Any time we went over there for Sunday dinner, the things that she would make were very Italian and things that I hadn't quite heard of or had the opportunity to try before," Gillon said. "I'm fortunate to be able to have drawn from that many years later in this competition."

Putting Midwestern cuisine on the map and what's next

Gillon said he was thankful to show that Midwest cuisine is more than just meat and potatoes and hopefully convince viewers it's not just a flyover state. "I really hope that it shows that the Midwest has, not only myself, but my entire Midwest team was so strong this year," he explained. "We've got a lot of great cooks, both amateur and professional. Give us a wave, but maybe land next time you're flying over too."

The beer salesman was also determined this season to show that beer belongs in fine dining and he seems to have proven that with "MasterChef" judge Aarón Sánchez. After tasting Gillon's entrée in the finale, Sánchez admitted he'd put his own version of the alcohol-infused fennel on his menu. "I've shown that there are flavor profiles within different kinds of beer that absolutely fit in with fine-dining and high-end restaurants," Gillon said. "I hope that sheds a little light there and that maybe it catches on a little bit more. We see a lot of spirits, and we see a lot of wine. Beer can make its way into the restaurant world, as well.

As for what the future holds after winning this prestigious title? The series champ revealed he's already working to get his own eatery up and running. "My goal from the beginning of this has been to open my own farm-to-table restaurant in my hometown of Altoona, and that is still my current plan," he said. "My goal right now is to be able to put my mark on my hometown and have something that the whole town can enjoy."

"MasterChef: United Tastes of America" episodes are available to stream on the FOX app and Hulu.