MasterChef 2014: Meet the final four contestants

John Torode and Gregg Wallace share their views on finalists Jack, Angela, Luke and Ping

It’s finals week on MasterChef and these final five have rattled their pots and pans all the way to the end. But who will be the next champion chef? Here’s what the final five have to say and what judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace think, too.


Jack Lucas, 22 (a student from Solihull)

Why did you apply for MasterChef ?

I’d just graduated from university with a degree in geography and because I’m on my year off, I thought, “You know what, I’ve got the time to do it, I may as well give it a go!”

How long have you been cooking?

My mum would always have me helping out at home. When I got to uni, YouTube was probably the biggest bank of learning material; I’d sit and watch cooking videos for hours. And really that’s how I learnt. My housemates would always be trying to steal my leftovers.

Toughest moment?

Cooking for the finalists and the past winners. You have to cook four plates and two courses in an hour and
15 minutes, and that is really tough.

You took a lot of risks.

On YouTube I’d seen chefs using waterbaths and pressure cookers, so I thought, “I’ve gotta try it.” The trouble is, waterbaths set you back about £300, so it’s not something that I have at home. It really was a case of go in on the day and hope for the best.

Who would you rather have round for dinner – John or Gregg?

I would choose Gregg, purely on the basis that he looks remarkably like my girlfriend’s dad, Rob. So I’d have Gregg sat at one seat, Rob at the other. It’d be hilarious.

What next?

I’ve got a job lined up next year in buying and marketing for Sainsbury’s. Hopefully I’ll be involved with getting products made, bringing them to market, that sort of thing. And at some point I’d love to own a restaurant… but being a chef is such a tough career – it’s gruelling.

John Torode says:

Jack has produced impressive dishes and flavours from the beginning and has great skill for his age. But he doesn’t always have the technical ability to pull dishes off, and he can have under- and over-seasoning issues.

Ping Coombes, 33 (a full-time mum from Bath)

Why did you apply?

I never had the guts until I was made redundant while I was on maternity leave from the private hospital where I was an assistant hotel manager. My friend sent me the form and I thought, “I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Where did you learn to cook?

I moved here [from Ipoh, Malaysia] for university when I was 20 and didn’t know how to boil an egg! I craved my mum’s cooking and the only way to get it was to learn how to cook it myself. Everyone back home was so surprised when I told them about MasterChef – “We didn’t know you could cook!”

Greatest challenge?

I’d never been away from my daughter Alexa [now 17 months old] for more than an hour since she was born, so that was really hard. I was stressing that I would miss her first steps and I wasn’t sleeping because she was teething. At times I wanted to throw in the towel, but then reminded myself that I was doing it because I wanted her to be proud of her mum.

Toughest moment?

Dropping the bowl of laksa in the quarter-final! For one second I just stood there. I could see everybody spinning round and gasping. I thought my time had come. And then John snapped me out of it: “Have you got more noodles?” And, being my mum’s daughter, I had.

Who would you rather have round for dinner – John or Gregg?

Both, because they are
 really funny together! I find their presence
 quite comforting.

What next?

I have always dreamt of having
 a Malaysian café where I could serve street food and noodles, and teach Malaysian cooking.

Gregg Wallace says:

Ping’s flavours (especially East Asian) and incredible skill are right up there! She is definitely not a one-trick pony. She’s
 a very organised cook.

Luke Owen, 31 (robotics company sales engineer)

Why did you apply?

I don’t know! I don’t really like people watching me cook or the idea of being on television. I didn’t tell my parents or friends that I was a contestant until a week before I was on TV.

How long have you been cooking?

The first thing I remember cooking was five or six years ago – a pasta dish for a girl I was trying to impress. Everybody at work was shocked because I don’t have a good diet in the office; they joked that I’d cook a crisp sandwich.

Toughest moment?

I literally over-egged
 the pudding I served to Marcus Wareing. As soon as it was in the oven I knew it wasn’t going to work. I thought there was no way I’d be put through – but I have felt that in every round.

What surprised you?

I lost a lot of weight. When the cameras weren’t rolling I would pace around and people would ask me to sit down because I was making them nervous.

Who would you rather have round for dinner – John or Gregg?

I think John is a bigger fan of mine, but maybe Gregg could entertain us with his one-liners!

Gregg says:

Luke has a brilliant, inventive mind and is very good at flavour combinations when it goes right. But he’s also a risk-taker, so it can go very wrong with him.

Angela Langford, 43 (director and owner of an organic skincare company)

Why did you apply?

Last September my mum very sadly lost her battle with cancer. We’d always watched MasterChef together and I used to say, “You should apply,” and she’d say “No, you should!” A couple of weeks after she passed away, my partner handed me the application form. Mum would have been so, so proud to know I’ve got so far.

How long have you been cooking?

My parents owned a restaurant and later a small hotel.
 I was brought up with amazing food but never really allowed in the kitchen. It was only when I went to university and realised that I didn’t want to eat processed food for the rest of my life that I thought I’d better learn.

Toughest moment?

It was mortifying when Marcus Wareing said my squab pigeon looked like a dog’s dinner. Presentation is not my strength; in my opinion it looked OK. So when he said that I thought: “Oh God, there’s no hope for me!”

Who would you rather have round for dinner – John or Gregg?

John and Gregg are like Ant and Dec – you can’t have one without the other! They’re scary but lovely.

What’s next?

I love what
 I do, but if I were ten years younger, I’d definitely open a restaurant.

John says:

Angela’s food is delicious, but she can be nervous and unfocused, and sometimes presentation 
and refinement elude her.

MasterChef continues tonight and tomorrow at 9:00pm and Friday at 8:30pm on BBC1