“Massively disappointed” is how MasterChef contestant Eamonn Hunt felt when he hung up his apron last night but he’s come a long way from pilchard pizza...
Factfile on Eamonn Hunt
Eamonn, 47, is a specialist joiner. He lives in Lincoln with his wife and two children.
First food memory
My first food memory was a pilchard pizza. I’m going back 40 years and mum and dad didn’t have much money. I suppose it was a quick and easy way to give us something nutritious and affordable and actually it was bloody delicious! I just remember flour and water, a tin of pilchards and cheese and the next thing we had this miraculous pizza, which at the age of 7 just seemed weird to me. That’s when I started getting interested in the alchemy of cookery.
One of the best moments was just getting onto the show. I was on the first show last year. I came 21st out of 20, went away and to my delight found out that I could take part again. Once you’re on the show, you can’t take part again, but they deemed this to be the audition round, so technically I hadn’t made it on to the show. So that was a big thrill, just getting through.
The biggest down in the show was I did a meal for Tom Kitchin and it was just a slow car crash, everything went wrong, it was horrible. I probably cooked the worst meal I’ve made for 15 years and I had to do it for Tom Kitchin. It was very upsetting. Food’s an emotional thing anyway. He said when he saw the ingredients I’d picked, his heart soared – then he saw what I’d cooked and said: ‘You’ve broken my heart!’ I was devastated.
How did he cope with the nerves?
It might sound strange but when you’re cooking you don’t actually notice the cameras whizzing around you, the studio, the crew in the background, you’re just concentrating so much on your plate of food. The only time you realise you’re in the MasterChef studio is when John and Gregg come up and start bothering you when you’d rather be doing your velouté. You’ve got to smile and answer the questions but in your head you’re going, ‘Leave me alone!’
Any lucky charms?
As I’m sure you know you’re not allowed to tell anyone that you’re in the competition but I did tell my wife and we kept it from the children. They must have got wind because the first time I went down to MasterChef there was a little pink Tamagotchi toy from Maria and a little Lego Darth Vader from Niall. From then on those two things were in my pocket when I was cooking.
It’s how I can go about finding some sort of a career in food. I’m hopefully going to try and get into some decent restaurants so I can learn. I still have to bring home the bacon but I’m hoping to get some chef work somewhere, preferably in Lincoln. But equally, a bit of fine dining cooking would be great. The main goal down the line would be to open my own place but I’ve got a lot of learning to do yet.
The judges say
John Torode: Eamonn is extremely good with massive hunks of meat. Also with very bold flavours, we saw that with the mackerel and the ham. There are times when some of the things he does are big and bold but at the same time very pretty. That’s very hard to pull off.
John Torode: Sometimes he forgets that he’s not cooking in his home kitchen. That manifests itself in a mess and not concentrating – he thinks he’s back home, whistling around the place and forgets the time and runs out of time.
Advice from the judges
John Torode: Discipline. Discipline!
Gregg Wallace: To get more practice in and make sure he nails whatever it is before he enters the arena.