A part-time house DJ from Hackney has been crowned this year’s MasterChef champion after preparing a knockout menu for the final challenge.
Natalie Coleman, 29, impressed judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace with lobster tails, roast pork belly and vanilla chocolate panna cotta.
“This is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life,” said Coleman, who works as a credit controller. “It’s like a fairytale really, the girl from Hackney done good.”
Viewers won’t have been too surprised to see Coleman emerge victorious over the other two finalists. At the semi-final stage, celebrity chef and guest judge Marcus Wareing reduced Dale Williams to tears with a savage critique and refused to even taste one of Larkin Cen’s poorly presented dishes.
Torode said: “I think Natalie is destined for great things. She not only understands finery of great food but she cooks for the people, food that people want to eat. She also has a great palate and understands flavour combinations.”
The amateur chef, who rustled up a dish for two-Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan as one of the final tasks, was inspired in the kitchen by her late grandmother.
Her teenage enthusiasm at the idea of becoming a chef waned, and she pondered becoming a PE teacher or a firefighter. But after beating 50 contestants (and around 4,000 applicants) to the MasterChef prize she now wants to focus on a culinary career.
“I want to learn as much as possible under great chefs and possibly go into food writing once I’ve learnt a lot more about food,” she said. “Depending on how good I get, my own restaurant one day would be amazing.”
Last year’s winner Shelina Permalloo is writing a cookery book, while 2008 champion James Nathan has opened a restaurant in Cornwall.
The show has been a ratings winner for the BBC, and the penultimate episode drew an audience of 5.22 million, making it the most watched programme of the night outside of the soaps.
Her winning menu was:
Starter: Lobster tail, accompanied by compressed fennel, fennel puree and shavings, dressed with an orange gel and beurre blanc, and Lobster oil.
Main: Roast pork belly, pork tenderloin and a scotch egg (made of black pudding and quail's egg), served with a pomme puree, caramelised shallots and two sauces - apple and a honey mustard.
Dessert: Vanilla chocolate panna cotta topped with a tempered bitter chocolate tuile with caramelised pears and a trio of hazelnut crumble biscuits.