Thursday 23 November 2017

MasterChef final three share their shock and delight

The finalists for 2017 have been announced.

By Katie Archer

The three amateurs battling it out for this year’s MasterChef trophy – Giovanna Ryan, Steve Kielty and Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed – have told of their disbelief at reaching the final.

Over the course of the competition, they have cooked for the show’s judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace, a litany of unforgiving restaurant critics and top chefs, the cast and crew of TV drama Holby City and 40 game park workers in South Africa.

Having made it this far, the top three are thrilled and also surprised, and have spoken of the moments that they felt were their turning points.

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Giovanna, a singing and musical theatre teacher, said her highlight was at the start of knockout week when all the contestants came together after battling through the quarter-finals.

She told the Press Association: “You think, ‘Oh God these people are so good, I probably won’t go anywhere’. But then I made a rabbit dish and got really lovely comments, so that was a real turning point for me, to know that I was sort of up there with the rest of them.

“It also gave me a good indication of what I should cook going forward. It’s all stuff from my childhood and from my family, and my Italian family. But I didn’t necessarily think I was going to be in the final!”

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Steve said his defining moment in the competition was being highly praised by renowned critic William Sitwell.

“The dish I cooked for him, the pea tortellini, that was a real confidence boost,” he said.

“Luckily it was quite early on in the competition, so to get such positive feedback from a critic who has tasted food all over the world from amazing chefs, was amazing.

“It was an eye-opener. I thought I might be alright from there.”

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Saliha said she “never anticipated in a million years” she would have made it to the final three, and that her big moment came when her rose-scented chicken Persian dish scored a clean sweep of positive remarks.

She said: “I was really happy to get amazing feedback for my Persian-inspired dish from the four critics, when I got positive feedback from them, I thought, if some critics like it then perhaps I can continue to try and impress John and Gregg.”

Following on from her MasterChef stint, Giovanna plans to start a supper club with former contestants Lorna Robertson and Alison O’Reilly, both of whom made it into finals week, and she also wants to open up her own restaurant in the future.

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She said: “I’m not looking to get a huge, big brand or a chain, I just love the little local restaurants that cook really nice food.”

For music producer and DJ Steve, the dream is to do something that fuses his two passions – music and food – together.

He said: “I’m never going to stop writing music, but I’ll see what opportunities arise after this and I hope that I can do something that combines the two.”

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Saliha, a doctor, wants to work with people with health problems that can be helped with food.

She said: “I will always keep cooking – I can’t stop.

“I will try to continue working as a doctor but there is so much scope for combining my interest in food with my profession, and trying to help lots of people with their food-related problems. I hope that I can do that in the future.”

The MasterChef final will be broadcast on BBC1 at 8.30pm on Friday May 12

Press Association

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