You may know that I am an avid follower of the TV cookery programme ‘Masterchef’; there are three versions and I love them all, the amateurs, the professionals and the celebrities. last night saw the final of the amateur competition with three great and talented young finalists cooking against each other.
They all cooked brilliantly, but I am delighted that my favourite won, a very gifted young woman called Natalie who, in my opinion had shone as a star from the first time we saw her, and was clearly passionate about food and the food she cooked. This review appeared in the Telegraph, and gives an amusing perspective on last night’s final episode:
MasterChef 2013: the final, BBC One, review
Gerard O’Donovan reviews the final of Masterchef in which Natalie Coleman is crowned this year’s winner.
“What are you doing with a bicycle pump in a duck?” shrieked Gregg Wallace during one of the more absurdly intense moments of Mastechef: the Final Three (BBC One). It was a not-unreasonable question, put to wildly experimental British-Chinese solicitor and finalist Larkin Cen as he set about enthusiastically inflating a plucked yellow fowl with his hand pump. Such was the bonkers ambition of this young man’s cooking, no one would have turned a hair if he’d suddenly piped up “Balloon of duck, anyone?”. But as it turned out he was trying to separate skin from flesh in the quickest way possible – for obscure technical reasons relating to crispiness.
Meanwhile, pint-sized credit controller and “proper Cockney” Natalie Coleman was storming ahead with a menu of such astounding complexity – lobster tail, fennel puree, roast pork three ways, black pudding scotch egg, and chocolate panna cotta just some of the elements – it made my head spin. “It’s going to be a battle, you’ve got to go out wiv a massive bang,” she’d said at the outset and all five-foot nothing of her looked ready to detonate with sheer culinary brilliance. Clean-cut Cardiff recruitment manager Dale Williams was going down the finest of fine dining routes – a man of focus, discipline and skill, his ballotine of red mullet, guinea fowl three ways with truffle sauce, and poached fruits and Champagne syrup was elegance on a plate (well, three actually). But would they be accomplished enough to convince Wallace and his fellow judge, and chef, John Torode?
There’s been talk this year about how MasterChef hasn’t really hit the heights of previous series, that it’s been too drawn out, that the challenges haven’t been as tough, the contestants as skilled, or even the judges as likeable as people would wish. Some of that criticism is fair, and this week’s three-part final has undoubtedly felt bloated and overcooked. Yet this remains one of the most eagerly talked about shows on television, and this concluding part, which brought the finalists back into the MasterChef kitchen to prove just how much their talent had deepened and matured over the course of the series, certainly provided as much high entertainment as could reasonably be expected from watching three people cooking to a very high standard.
In the end it was li’l Natalie who, in a result that won’t have surprised many (least of all Telegraph online voters who gave her an overwhelming 80 per cent approval) lifted the much-prized cooker-ring trophy. Torode professed himself “quite astounded” and “blown away” by the technical quality and “clarity” of her cooking, while Wallace was left grasping for superlatives. Smiles were beamed, hugs were had, champagne was quaffed, joy was unconfined. “It’s mad, innit?’ said Natalie, fighting back tears. “It’s like a fairytale. The girl from Hackney did good.”