Just wanted to post a huge congratulations to Steven, Masterchef 2007! I am fiercely proud of him and his achievements and he was such a worthy winner. Steven is an amazing cook and has a palette unlike anyone I have ever known - he can make even the simplest things like scrambled eggs taste stunning, just by adding a dash of truffle oil and some chives - completely elevating the dish to a level I would never even have thought of. I am so, so pleased for him and am grateful that Masterchef has brought us together - we have often said we are cooking soul mates and I know that we are going to be friends for a long, long time. Yes OK maybe Steven isn't totally aware of how fast the hands go round a clock (!), but I would sit and wait patiently for a plate of food from him any day. Believe me, the wait is worth it. Steven is destined for great things and I hope that one day Charles Campion will have to eat his words!
Also a huge congratulations to Ben - we all achieved so much and pushed ourselves way beyond any normal limits. When condensed into 30 minutes it is often hard to imagine why we were all so stressed. The level of intensity that we were sometimes under was unreal and I felt so proud watching us all at Downing Street, the Savoy and in Paris. Ben's presentation and technical ability is awesome. He will be a great chef and I fully expect to one day be eating in his Michelin starred restaurant. I always looked at his plates of food agog with amazement - they are so far removed from my rustic style of cooking and I can only hope that one day I may elevate my food to such a high standard. Ben was always there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on - the two of us were away from our friends and family for five weeks, living out of a suitcase in a hotel, surrounded by complete strangers and cameras and cooking under immense pressure - COOKING REALLY DOESN'T GET TOUGHER THAN THIS - believe me! I know that Ben will go on to achieve the great things he deserves.
As for me, Masterchef has been the most amazing journey of my life - I was a last minute stand in and came to the heats with 24 hours notice (hence the rather rushed decision to make blueberry duck and saffron mash - thank goodness I won't have to see "that" clip any more!!!) I am so proud of what I achieved - I learnt so much with expert tuition from John and Gregg who would quietly pass on useful tips when they were walking round the kitchen and who saw something in me which to this day I still find hard to see in myself and the amazing Giancarlo Caldesi who was there for me at my lowest point in the competition, who picked me up, dusted me down and taught me about getting amazing flavours from a few ingredients which give a dish the wow factor that I was seeking. I am so lucky to have been taught by some monumental chefs - particularly Helene in Paris who was truly inspirational with her silent kitchen - I have never worked anywhere more calm and relaxed and really loved it and at the Ritz Paris which never made the final programme but where we learned some remarkable dishes. I am so privileged to have cooked at 10 Downing Street and for the Michelin Starred chefs at the Savoy - to this day still can't quite believe the praise I was given and am very proud of myself for what I achieved that day. That said, the highlight of the series for me has to be Gregg putting his face in my blueberry cheesecake (literally) on my first day which sadly didn't get shown but was very very funny!
Big thanks to John and Gregg for the continued support and also to the wonderful crew from Shine who were there with us throughout the whole journey, including during the last few weeks when at times it has been hard to have your every flaw shown on national tv. At least, in the knowledge of how far I came, I can look back at those less than perfect moments (pizza dough, chocolate slop in a pot, fruit tart flip flops (as Gregg so kindly named them), tears) and laugh!
I have lots of things in the pipeline and I know that this isn't the end of my cooking journey but for now, it's Friday...tonight is Steven's victory party and I can't wait to get there and congratulate him in person.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me throughout the competition, for all the lovely comments and emails of support and to those complete strangers who have come up to me in the street and wished me luck. It really has meant the world to me.