MasterChef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace have whittled this year’s cooks down to three final contestants, Jane Devonshire, Jack Layer and Billy Wright. But who thinks they can go all the way?
We talk to the three remaining chefs about their MasterChef 2016 experience ahead of the final episode, this Friday 6 May at 8.30pm on BBC1.
50, lives in Hampshire with her husband and four children aged 13, 17, 21 and 23
Why did you apply to take part in MasterChef?
My youngest son Ben was on at me to fill in the form because I’m a MasterChef fanatic. But I really didn’t expect to hear anything back.
Who do you cook for?
My family! When my third child Harry came along, it became clear that juggling children and my marketing job for an IT company was going to be difficult so I gave up work. Suddenly I had a lot of time to obsess about food and there are amazing farmers’ markets and lots
of great fresh produce where we live.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on MasterChef?
I’m used to having 15 people over for Sunday lunch, and dishing up for four children. So learning to make just one plate of pretty food was a big lesson.
Did anything surprise you about being on the show?
Those induction hobs take a bit of getting used to! Things cook a lot quicker at home and that can catch you out. You learn how to factor that into your timings, though.
Do you want to make a career out of cooking now?
I’ve just turned 50, and the kids are older, so I’d like to go back to work for a few years. The reality is that at my age, starting a restaurant would be hard. It’s a young person’s game. But there are lots of other options and I’d love to do something in the food world.
27, grew up in Oxfordshire and now lives in London, where he’s a project manager at a creative branding agency
What’s your first memory of cooking?
When I took it upon myself to cook for my grandmother’s 70th birthday. I was nine years old and it was the first time I’d cooked with the express intent of making people happy. I think I made some sort of Italian-inspired beef stew and a sabayon for desert.
What was your pre-MasterChef speciality?
I don’t often cook the same thing twice, but it’s always fun to make a deep-fried, crispy egg.
What is your biggest cookery disaster?
My girlfriend Lois likes to remind me of the time I tried to make a pea-flavoured crème brûlée. I like playing around with sweet and savoury flavours, but that was a misjudged attempt to be a bit clever.
Did anything surprise you about being on MasterChef?
It was more intense than I expected. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and write down ideas. I’d read cookbooks on the Tube, and watch YouTube in my lunch break.
What was your highlight?
The feedback from William Sitwell about my cheesecake. I still find it difficult to believe it happened. It was an incredible confidence boost for me, and I’ll treasure that moment for the rest of my life.
32, is a commercial property surveyor. He grew up in the Vale of Belvoir and now lives in London with his girlfriend Ellie
Who taught you to cook?
We had a nanny who looked after me and my brother, and we’d bake cakes. Later, my mum would throw dinner parties and I’d make crème brûlées and treacle tarts for her to serve.
What was your speciality?
I’ve always had a sweet tooth. I can’t stand it when people don’t order desserts at a restaurant, or say they don’t want one but then try to have a spoonful of mine.
Why did you enter MasterChef?
People have been badgering me for years to go on the show. The invention test filled me with dread, but I watched one of the quarter-final shows last year and decided I could do better.
What was your worst moment?
When we cooked for the previous finalists and my ice-cream didn’t set. It was churning for 45 minutes, so I don’t know why. I felt I’d gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson afterwards.
Who do you cook for?
My girlfriend, friends and family. I don’t get invited back to many dinner parties because people are worried their cooking isn’t going to be good enough for me!
What did you sacrifice to take part in MasterChef?
My company allowed me the time I needed. But I did put on a lot of weight! I don’t usually go on the scales but my other half complained we were eating too much.
MasterChef 2016 ends Friday 6 May at 8.30pm on BBC1