Meet the MasterChef 2013 finalists: Larkin, Natalie and Dale spill the beans on judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The finalists talk food influences, embarrassing moments and future plans

Spare a thought for this year's MasterChef judges: John Torode moans that the final, screened in three parts from tonight, is the toughest yet; while Gregg Wallace says that previous winner and Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers wouldn’t stand a chance against the current crop. Judging MasterChef doesn't get much tougher than this.

Click here or on 'view gallery' to read more about finalists Larkin, Natalie and Dale

The three amateur cooks who made it through to the final are all under 30. And for the first time in the show's history there are two Welsh MasterChef finalists. Cardiff lads Dale Williams and Larkin Cen will battle it out against Natalie Coleman from East London.

During the competition the trio have cooked for Bond girls at the Savoy, served up gastronomic delights to Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing and watched as a three course meal was consumed by some of the UK’s most formidable food critics.

But will it be charming Larkin, humble Natalie or focussed Dale who takes the title on Thursday night? They didn’t give much away, although they did reveal which judge they prefer…

How has your cooking changed on the programme?

Larkin: Before the show I had never cooked a dessert before so it was a steep learning  curve. At home I usually do one-pot-wonders like ramen or stir fry packed full of flavour, but on the show it’s more like a balancing act because you’ve got to show technique.

Natalie: It’s changed it dramatically. You need to teach yourself a lot of stuff to stand out from the others, but sometimes John would come round and give us tips while we were cooking. I’ve also started using a lot more game since being on the show.

Dale: The main change in cooking is just really concentrating on the flavour. When I came on the show I pretty much had presentation wrapped up, the bit I needed to improve was depth of flavour.

Who are your favourite TV chefs?

Larkin: Gordon Ramsay, but I quite like Jamie Oliver because his food is so accessible.

Natalie: Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson- there are lots.

Dale: Michel Roux, and I’m a Jamie Oliver fan for my sins.

Where did your passion for food come from?

Larkin: My late granddad was an amazing chef back in the day and my parents run a Chinese takeaway, but they always tried to keep me away from food so I would concentrate on my studies. I almost quit law school in my second year though because I wanted to become a chef.

Natalie: Most of my happy memories from being a kid involve mountains of food cooked by my Nan or Mum. I moved out when I was 18 so I cooked more to survive, but then I started getting into food by watching cooking programmes.

Dale: My mum is the inspiration behind home cooked family food. I like getting large groups of people together and cooking for family and friends.

What was your most embarrassing moment of the show?

Larkin: The whole Marcus Wareing thing. I was the last person to get feedback that day and I could see this train coming towards me and I just couldn’t get out of the way of it.

Natalie: The big stir fry I did on the palate test. I started one thing and then threw it in the bin halfway through. I thought I was going to go home after that.

Dale: Disappointing Marcus Wareing and getting emotional.

Whose opinion do you value more, Gregg or John?

Larkin: Both to be honest because Gregg is the diner- that’s what he’s there for- and John has all the technical knowledge. So both for different reasons.

Natalie: Gregg’s the punter, I normally see John as the one who’s always right. He puts things from a chef’s angle and cooking professionally is something that I definitely want to get into.

Dale: Professionally, John’s. From a personality point of view, Gregg’s, because you’re looking to cook food that people want to love.

If you were stranded on a desert island would you prefer John or Gregg for company?

Larkin: I would prefer to have John because Gregg might eat everything.

Natalie: I’d say Gregg because he is the funny one. He’s a south cockney and I’m an east cockney, we’d have a right laugh.

Dale: John. Gregg’s jokes are ok for five minutes, but if you’r e stuck on a desert island with him you’d want to swim for shore.

Who is your favourite MasterChef winner from previous series?

Larkin: I’ve always loved Dhruv Baker. I think he’s fantastic in terms of technical skill and flavour balances.

Natalie: Mat Follas. He came across friendly and it was at a time that I was getting into my cooking- I loved his rabbit with nettles.

Dale: It’s between three: Mat Follas, Shelina Permalloo and Tim Anderson. If I had to choose one it would be Shelina because she brought almost a new cuisine to the show with her Mauritian dishes.

What would you like to do after MasterChef?

Larkin: I have ideas for a catering business, but watch this space. I would jump at the opportunity to talk on TV and radio about changing the reputation of Chinese food in the UK.

Natalie: I would like to get a job in a kitchen ideally. All I want to do is go and cook in a kitchen every day. That would be my dream.

Dale: I will be involved in food in a business sense, rather than a chef’s sense. I’ve got countless respect for chefs but it’s never been my plan to be in the kitchen.

Click here to read more about Larkin, Natalie and Dale

MasterChef: The Final Three – starts tonight Tuesday 30 April at 9pm, and continues Wednesday and Thursday, 9pm, on BBC One

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup