Tom, 26, is a plasterer. He lives with his mum in West Yorkshire.
First food memory
Eating on a fishing trip with my dad and brother. We used to go freshwater fishing and catch pike and trout and eat them. My family wasn’t really into food, though. I’m a self-taught cook and it’s been trial and error. I’ve never been one for recipe books; I don’t have the attention span. I used to watch loads of cookery on the telly, though.
Presenting my chilli and pineapple soufflé. When that worked, that was a real high for me.
Making so many mistakes cooking for Michel Roux Jr at Middle Temple. I idolise him and it was very frustrating. I didn’t know he was going to be there. I had played it safe when I was cooking for chef Tom Kitchin and this time I just tried to do too much and it didn’t work.
How about nerves?
The further you get into the competition, the more the pressure builds, but I also got more comfortable with being in the studio. I was all over the place at first, probably walked five miles around the bench cooking one dish, but I got better.
I didn’t sleep the night before, and practised as much as I could. You can’t really rehearse; you make so much mess and your own kitchen doesn’t have all the equipment. I also made sure I’d had enough caffeine. When I’m cooking, I can’t really eat and once I’ve eaten, I don’t want to cook. I kept myself hungry. I think it makes for a better palate; you’re more sensitive to flavours then.
To get as much experience as I can. Ultimately, it would be to have my own little restaurant and to cook my own food the way I want to.
The judges say…
John Torode: Tom has the ability to bring together flavours that shouldn’t work and make them work. He’s been up and down in the competition, but whenever he’s told he has to get it together, he pulls something out of the hat.
John Torode: There’s his inability to listen. Arrogance is one thing but deafness is another. Sometimes Tom just refuses to listen.
A word of advice
John Torode: Open your ears, son; the world’s a big place.
Gregg Wallace: Go and work in a top-class kitchen. Tom’s a quality chef in the making; he needs to work his way up the ranks. He’s young enough to change his career.
This was originally published in the issue of Radio Times magazine that went on sale 6 March 2012. Come back over the next few days for our interviews with Shelina and Andrew!
MasterChef: the Final Three airs tonight, tomorrow and Thursday at 9pm, BBC1.