Wow, wow, wow.... watching last night's show was such a rollercoaster of emotions. I think I might have to take myself and my poor adrenal glands off to somewhere quiet to recoup, as I can't believe how much adrenalin was running through me watching last night's show! Hannah, Ben and myself had known who the winner was since the filming wrapped, tonight's outcome and watching it as a viewer and not the participant was really moving, and had finally allowed everyone who is close to us the chance to see what we really achieved and how much we evolved not just as cooks, but as people.
It's just amazing to reconnect with the emotions that final day; all of the tension, with the big question of 'had I done enough?' 'had I planned properly?' - or had I again got carried away with over complication and screwed my chances. Everyone's nerves were so fraught, and I guess the biggest thing was that after this, after months of reading, planning, cooking and labouring over dish after dish, this was it, the final day had come. Well for once I got it right, and I will never forget hearing my name being called as the three of us stood there shaking as we waited for the verdict.
I need to say many words about Hannah and Ben, who in my mind are two of the most amazing people I have ever met. The three of us had spent over five weeks together filming, travelling together, and not once did we bicker or allow ourselves to be consumed by the competition. Whenever one of us had a bad day, lack of confidence or need to whinge, we were all there to pick each other up and hastily made tea, and dished out the pep talks. Both of them , with their extraordinary talents kept the pace and standard of the Masterchef finals so high, there were many days when I glumly realised I couldn't compete and would have to admirably concede to defeat. Without them, I wouldn't have had the amazing, amazing time during the finals (and the semis too..), with all the laughs and stories on the way. Here's to them;
Hannah is a true star, and the most naturally gifted cook I will ever meet. We got on from day one, and I have just been so enamoured by her amazing warmth and incredible spirit. Her talent is so fascinating and I find the way she works is like a poet or writer from the 17th Century. She artfully juggles ingredients and flavours like a perfumer, and makes it look so easy. Her style is effortless, and cooks so much from the heart, she creates the kind of food that I know many people in this country will love and want much, much more of. Its rare to meet such kindred spirits in life, and Hannah is definately one of them, one of the people you know will be a part of your life for the rest of your life. I think that the episode with us on sunloungers on a Cyprus beach at 3am, roaring and cackling like wild beasts was one of the best moments of my life.
We would both like to start cooking together at some point, as we both share so much and are moved and inspired by similar things. The best bit about us though is that we always laugh together, and and I think that is something very special indeed.
I have always admired Ben for his incredible sophistication, artistry and brilliant execution - I can't say enough how much he derserves praise for his creative genius. Ben has always demostrated through his cooking his technical brilliance and exceptional palette and sublime understanding of flavours. I have no doubts that he will achieve such high excellence within the industry, and becomes a legendary chef. I wouldn't be surprised if Ben gets his stars in a few years time, and I will look forward to toasting his every success.
I have to thank the amazing chefs I have worked with during the show for their incredible words and guidance, and allowing me to gain access to their incredible worlds. I hope to continue learning from you all and many, many more of you too. Thanks to Brendan, Grace and Richard at Bentley's for making me understand elegant simplicity, Patrice and Jerome at the Savoy (and thanks for the oak chips for my final meal too!) Christophe at the Ritz Paris, Yannick's hardcore haute vision, and insanely beautiful work, and to Michel Roux Jr. - with whom I look forward to starting work with in the next few weeks.
I have got so many people to say thankyou to for helping me navigate me through all of this, and for always believing in me when my self-belief failed; most importantly my family and friends who have stuck by me through thick and thin, and whose patience I have tested to the limits on many an occassion. I love you all and am honoured to have you in my life. (Sounding like an Oscars acceptance speech here...)
I have a say a huge thankyou also to all of the people that have stopped me in the street and wished me well, and for all the wonderful emails of support and congratulations. Thanks also to all of those of you on the message boards that have been so supportive, and have written such great things. It really means so much to me. Thankyou! Thankyou! Thankyou!
Lastly, I need to thank John, Gregg, Karen, David, Beth and all the crew for taking me on this journey, and for opening my eyes to my own potential and ability as a cook. Your vision and support over these past few months has been truly amazing. Thankyou for reconnecting me with my gifts and allowing me this amazing platform from which I can really transform who I am.