Celebrity MasterChef returns to our screens this evening. Its contestants aren’t like the competitors in the show’s mere mortal version.
They aren’t quitting their jobs to pursue their dreams. They aren’t making a gastronomic gamble – they have the (relative) trappings of fame and a successful career to fall back on. The most they’re risking is looking a bit silly when their soufflé collapses in front of a despondent Gregg Wallace.
The levels of culinary attainment on the show are nonetheless enough to make you despair at the sight of the half-eaten ready meal balanced disappointingly on your lap. In fact, the winners of the show produce genuinely impressive dishes.
With this in mind it’s worth asking whether the show’s past winners have gone on to capitalise on their cooking success, or whether it was all just a flash in the pan. Here’s what a selection of them are doing now:
Winning menu: Salmon carpaccio with scallion pancakes, followed by pan-fried sea bass with a tamarind broth and a dessert of almond and pear tart.
The World Cup-winning scrum half has proved himself to be one of the celebrity TV circuit’s most ruthless competitors. Not only did he win MasterChef, he was a runner-up on Strictly Come Dancing and nowadays is locked in a perennial battle for points with Phil Tufnell on A Question of Sport. He’s also kept cooking.
After his MasterChef success, Dawson released a cook book named Fresh, Simple, Healthy. He’s also featured on cooking shows including Real Food Family Cook Off and Matt and Allegra’s Big Farm.
Winning menu: Prosciutto-wrapped scallops, followed by de-constructed beef wellington with oxtail, sticky toffee crème brûlée for dessert.
Astonishingly, the former Atomic Kitten star had never cooked before winning the show in 2008, her natural flair alone propelling her to the title. Since winning she’s made good use of her new-found skills, having presented and featured on LK Today, This Morning, Ready Steady Cook, and Market Kitchen.
Back in 2009 she was even bestowed with one of the cooking world’s highest honours: designing a pasta dish for Pizza Hut.
Winning menu: Goats cheese and onion tarts, followed by monkfish with a butternut squash fondant, French beans and sauce vierge, and a dessert of almond panna cotta with poached tamarillos and berries.
Winning Celebrity MasterChef has changed Lisa Faulkner’s life. Since winning, the Holby City actress has released multiple bestselling cook books including Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter, The Way I Cook and Tea & Cake.
Along with Matt Dawson, she’s also presented Real Food Family Cook Off and in 2013 fronted What’s Cooking on Channel 4.
Oh, and John Torode was so besotted with Lisa’s cooking that the two became a couple.
Winning menu: Scallops with black pudding, followed by loin of lamb with baby carrots and fondant potatoes, chocolate orange bread and butter pudding.
Not to be confused with the actual TV chef of the same name, former England rugby captain Phil Vickery was something of a sensation on the 2011 series as he brushed aside Kirsty Wark and Nick Pickard in the final.
The grizzled tight-head grew up on a farm and definitely knows his ingredients. As well as cooking on multiple mid-morning shows, he’s helped McDonald’s by joining a campaign to source producers for their menus, has advised and supported the British butcher team and was also the face of last year’s British Sausage Week.
He’s also said that he’d consider setting up a restaurant in his native Gloucestershire.
Winning menu: Venison with celeriac remoulade, followed by sea bass stuffed with scallop mousse and a strawberry and caramel dessert with shortbread.
Ade Edmondson won back in 2013 after vanquishing the formidable combo of Les Dennis and Janet Street-Porter. Unusually, the former Young Ones star had already dabbled in cooking on TV before his MasterChef appearance, popping up on Hell’s Kitchen and even fronting his own ITV show – Ade in Britain – that saw him tour the country, celebrating the nation’s food heritage.
Since winning he’s claimed his improved kitchen skills have allowed him to lose weight, while he’s also helped to create recipes for the the cider brand Merry Down.
Winning menu: Roulade of duck stuffed with juniper berries and a mushroom and port sauce, a main of roasted brill with a pepper crust, scallops, black pudding, and chive and butter sauce, followed by a dessert of steamed cherry pudding with butterscotch sauce and brandy ice cream.
The Olivier award-winning actress – and Emma Thompson’s sister – turned out some great food to snatch the MasterChef crown from fellow finalists Charley Boorman and Jodie Kidd.
However, she hasn’t followed some of her predecessors by delving into the world of professional cooking just yet, instead preferring to focus on acting. She’s since appeared in shows like BBC4’s brilliantly understated comedy Detectorists.
Winning MasterChef is just the icing on the cake for some.