Meet the MasterChef 2017 finalists: who is Alison O’Reilly?

Introducing the Irish cook who's wowed judges and viewers since the first round

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Name: Alison O’Reilly 

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From: Raised in South County Dublin, now lives in London

Age: 31 (30 while filming)

Profession: Marketing consultant 

Twitter: @AlisonPOReilly

Who is Alison O’Reilly?

Irish girl Alison is a budding chef and has been since she was given The Usborne First Cookbook on her sixth birthday.

Her influences? “It’s a fairly cliché answer, but I’ve been watching Jamie Oliver since he first appeared on screen,” Alison said. “He has had a massive impact on my attitude and understanding of food. He encouraged me to try so many new things at home.

How has she done in MasterChef 2017 so far?

Very well – she’s in the final, isn’t she? O’Reilly sailed through the first round, impressing hosts Greg Wallace and John Torode with her rack of lamb with beetroot. 

But never mind the food: O’Reilly managed to carry all THREE plates at once. 

Her calm-under-pressure cooking saw her zip through the quarter-finals. However, she faced her first major wobble at the semis when restaurant critic Jay Rayner said her undercooked rib meal was “a brilliant dish … in about three hours time”. But despite this hiccup, she (narrowly) got through to the final week.

When is the MasterChef 2017 on TV?

The finalists are facing a number of challenges this week. Here’s a taste of what’s to come in each episode.

Monday 8th May, 8.30pm, BBC1

The final five travel to Winfield House, the official residence of the American Ambassador to the United Kingdom, where they have the immense task of cooking for him and his five guests, who include author and journalist Rachel Johnson, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Jeremy King, creator of restaurants The Ivy and The Wolseley.

After cooking a complex menu designed by Paul Ainsworth, and cooking a ‘personal’ dish for Gregg and John, one of the five will be sent home.

Wednesday 10th May, 8pm, BBC1

The final four will be jet-setting to South Africa to face three challenges from the country’s best chefs. They’ll also be cooking at The Test Kitchen, South Africa’s top restaurant and the 25th best in the world.

Thursday 11th May, 8pm, BBC1

It’s time for another contestant to head home: the four hopefuls will be challenged to put their spin on a classic dish, after which one chef will be sent packing by Gregg and John.

Then it’s the scariest task yet: The Chef’s Table. The remaining finalists will be mentored by two-Michelin-Star chef Sat Bains before producing a dish from his experimental menu.

Friday 12th May, 8.30pm, BBC1

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It’s the grand final. The last step to the coveted Masterchef champion’s trophy. But it won’t be an easy one: the contestants have three hours to cook three courses for Gregg and John, who are looking for culinary boundaries to be smashed.