'I loved Alison but competitions are competitions' - John Torode on Irish MasterChef finalist Alison O'Reilly
Masterchef presenter and judge John Torode reveals he "loved" Irish finalist Alison O'Reilly, but it was her time to leave before the final three.
There was uproar on Twitter when the Dublin cook was eliminated from last month's final as many believed she had what it takes to win the prestigious series.
Torode, who was in Ireland this week to judge the final of the World Class Irish Bartender of the Year competition, says "competitions are competitions" and "it's heartbreaking but that's the reality".
"In the same way as [at the World Series Bartending final] I thought we had three people who were up for it and one person disappeared in the first round. It's just what happens," he says.
"It's down to how you perform on the day and I think with any competition you've got to think about where you are now and how it's been thought out.
"I think restaurateurs and bartenders are always judged on what they've served last, not what they served two weeks ago and that's a make or break. That means consistency and that's the reality of life.
"If you go to your favourite coffee shop and you get there and the coffee is cold and the milk is sour, you go back and ask the guy to remake it. If it's still wrong you've given up haven't you? That's on one msitake. That's competition. It's heartbreaking but that's the reality."
Even though Alison did not win (the title went to Saliha Mahmood-Ahmed), he says she's "forging her own way forward" by teaming up with fellow Masterchef contestants Giovanna Ryan and Lorna Robertson for Three Girl Cooks.
"Whether you win MasterChef or not, when you've made the decision to enter MasterChef you've made the decision to change your life," he says.
He compares Masterchef to the World Class competition, which was won by talented bartender Andy Ferreira from Cask in Cork who will now compete in the final in Mexico in September.
"Andy took that decision," says John. "He decided to take a step up, take a risk, stick his head above the parapet and learn something."
Despite recognising the massive boost such competitions can give people's careers these days, Torode reckons he would not have been interested in entering any when he was starting out.
"I love what I do and I've always been a chef and my job is to feed people," he says. "As far as I'm concerned the only judge that there's going to be is the person who smiles back at me when they eat my food. I'm very happy to feed people and see them laugh and smile and if they don't smile their judgement has been laid down."