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
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
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.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week