Name:  Nicky

Region: Glasgow (originally from Edinburgh)

Age:  41

Profession: Medical Writer

Personal: Single


Does cooking run in your family?

Cooking doesn’t really run in the family, although my Grandad was a good cook. My mum and dad are both really fussy eaters and I think they sometimes wonder where I came from!


Where does your love of cooking come from?

I can still remember when I first fell in love with food – it was the first time I tasted Chilli con carne. I was about 12 and after years of meat and two veg, I thought my taste buds were going to explode – I still love it! Now I’d say my passion lies with modern British fare – using good quality, seasonal ingredients.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

I’ve been watching MasterChef for years and I love it. Last year, I just thought ‘Why not?’ Life’s short and I didn’t want to get to 70 and regret not doing it! I’d love to have my own little restaurant, with a nice relaxed atmosphere, lots of regular customers and a menu that changes depending on what’s available that week!


Name:  Neil

Region: West Midlands

Age:  28

Profession: Fashion Merchandiser

Personal: Single


When did you start cooking?

I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember. My Mum is an amazing cook and it was through years of watching and helping her that I learnt to cook. My Dad does a mean beans on toast! I’ve wanted to be a chef since I was 14!


What do you love about food?

I love baking. There’s nothing more satisfying than taking the perfect loaf out the oven, except maybe eating it shortly after! I am obsessive about food.  Even when things go disastrously wrong at home, I never miss a day of cooking.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

I was accepted into catering college at the age of 18 and bought all the chef whites and everything but at the last minute I couldn’t go through with it – I just didn’t have the confidence.  I tend not to believe people when they say they like my cooking, I went into MasterChef to prove to myself that I could do it. I’d love to have my own small holding, allowing me to be self-sufficient whilst producing enough additional crops to use for my own food business.


Name:  Matthew

Region: London

Age:  36

Profession: Freelance photographer and editor 

Personal: Married to Diana


When did you start cooking?

I have always been fascinated by food but only started cooking at the age of 16. My parents used to work late running their village shop and I was responsible for cooking dinner for myself and my younger brother.


What are your cooking influences?

Whilst working in Turkey as a dive master my passion was really fired up by seeing how really simple ingredients could make amazing flavours. I love the food of the Eastern Mediterranean and recreating and adapting this with really good quality, locally-sourced ingredients.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

I want to set up a food business and MasterChef could help me hone my skills and raise my profile to enable this. My wife and I would love to move to California, run a dive shop and restaurant and enjoy the beautiful wilderness of that part of the world.


Name:  Kennedy

Region: Glasgow

Age:   32

Profession: Cellist in Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Personal:  Engaged to rising star flautist Katherine


How long have you been cooking?

I really started when I moved away from home when I was about 19. I found myself eating rubbish. I realised that I was just being lazy so started cooking from scratch and haven’t stopped since.


What influences your cooking?

My passion doesn’t lie in any particular area other than creating the best tasting food possible for whoever is eating it. I love experimenting and I’m a firm believer that cooking should be fun.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

I have achieved a great deal of success in the world of music; to get a job as a Cellist in a professional Orchestra is extremely difficult. However, I’ve played the cello every day since I was eight and it’s time for a change! I sit at work thinking about what I’m going to cook. I have always loved MasterChef and I really wanted people to try my food and give me honest feedback as to what level I was at.


Name:  James

Region: Milton Keynes

Age:  24

Profession: Self Employed Carpenter

Personal: Married with 2 daughters


When did you start cooking?

I have always cooked, since I was very small. My Father thought you should know how to look after yourself and I very much had that ‘I can do that attitude’.  My Dad said I’d either be a builder or a chef. He passed away five years ago but would have been immensely proud of my decision to take part in MasterChef.


What inspires your cooking?

My heart lies between British and French cookery but I also love world cuisine. I grew up living next door to a Pakistani family, who would bring over plates of amazing food for me to try at Christmas time.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

Close friends had always tried to persuade me to enter MasterChef but I never thought I was good enough. To be honest I was a little hung-over one morning, surfing the web and decided to have a look at the MasterChef entry form, the next thing I know the application was in filled in and sent!


Name:  Jackie

Region: Manchester

Age:  40

Profession: Research Analyst

Personal:      Married to Lee with 12 year old twins


When did you start cooking?

I began learning to cook at the age of four, I used to cook for my younger sister a lot and I’d always be experimenting with dinner – egg fried rice was a firm favourite. My daughter has inherited my love of food and cooking, she particularly likes baking.  I think she’s quite talented and she has ambitions herself to be a chef.


What is your cooking influence?

My husband and I have travelled extensively throughout Asia with our children… I LOVE Asian food – as someone who has a predominantly vegetarian diet (my children are strict vegetarians and my husband mostly is) so I just love the choice and nutrition that Asian food offers.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

While I was travelling, I knew I had found what I wanted to do – to bring street food and regional Asian food to Manchester, serving amazing vegetarian and vegan food, and occasional very carefully selected fish and meat.


Name:  Fiona

Region: Hertfordshire

Age:   39

Profession: Legal Secretary

Personal:  Married with daughter (15) and son (11)


When did you start cooking?

I’ve been cooking since I was old enough to hold a knife without representing a danger to myself! Cooking runs in the family. Both my Father and Grandmother were excellent cooks.


When you were younger what inspired your cooking?

I was greatly inspired by my Grandmother’s old fashioned English cooking as well as my Dad’s gastronomic adventures. He was a Naval Officer and always brought home new ideas and flavours from around the world.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

My friends nickname me Bree Van di Camp because I plan my dinner parties with military precision!  I was brow-beaten into completing the entry form by so many of my friends, I decided to enter (not thinking for a moment that I would actually get through!) just to keep them quiet! Ultimately though I would hope that one day I can make a living from doing something I totally love.

Name:  Elizabeth

Region: Berkshire (born in Singapore)

Age:   22

Profession: Art Gallery Assistant / Architecture Student

Personal:  Living with parents and younger sisters


Who taught you to cook?

Cooking definitely runs in my family, my mother is a great cook; I’ve learnt a lot from her. She has always cooked a fresh big meal for the family everyday regardless of how tired or hard worked she was. She’s taught me oriental dishes, such as traditional Singaporean dishes like Chicken Rice, or Nasi Lemak, both personal favourites.


What inspires your cooking?

I love being able to make people happy when I cook and seeing them enjoy it. I believe that cooking should enlighten the senses… You eat with your eyes first! The principles I learnt when I was studying architecture, I apply to cooking. I like the idea of taking a dish, de-constructing it into parts, refining and learning those parts and putting it back together as a perfected dish or reconstructing a new dish in new and exciting way.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

I decided to enter the competition because I wanted to see how much I could learn. I’ve always been a big fan of MasterChef; I wanted to have an opportunity to see what it would be like to cook for chefs that I admire. I knew that it was the right choice to enter because the show has enriched my passion for cooking instead of a career in Architecture. My ambition is to establish a firm career in cuisine, and continue to learn and develop my cooking skills, and hopefully far in the future, open my own restaurant.


Name:  Claudia 

Region:  Birmingham

Age:   38

Profession: Fashion Design Lecturer University of Derby

Personal:   Lives with partner and daughter (4).     


When did you start cooking?

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t cook! I even remember having to stand on a chair to reach the cooker – not done in this day and age! I have a huge family, a mum with 16 siblings and they are all amazing cooks.


What are your cooking influences?

My cooking influence is from my Mum, being brought up in the Caribbean with not a great income, she always made amazing meals with economical ingredients. I think I’m good at that. Give me a fiver and I’ll give you a feast! Cooking is definitely something we were brought up with. My sister is a trained Chef so our passion for cooking definitely runs in the family.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

I used to watch MasterChef when I was in my teens and was compelled by the art of food. I always swore to myself: One day, I’m going to do that!I’d love to develop and run a Community Café to combine creative and culinary courses and offer personal and professional development. It would of course be the best cafe in the Midlands!


Name:  Annie

Region: Berkshire

Age:   39

Profession:  Mother/part-time Administrator

Personal:  Married with daughter (6) and son (4)


Does cooking run in your family?

My Mother is a fantastic cook and has been a huge influence on me. She brought us up on wholesome, home-cooked food using seasonal ingredients. She would make home made soup for lunch pretty much every day, out of whatever happened to be in the fridge.  If we ran out of bread she would knock up a loaf of soda bread with so little fuss that it always appeared to me to be the norm.


What influences your cooking?

I feel very strongly about understanding where our food originates from and taking responsibility for it.  My children know where their drumsticks or chops come from, and understand the importance of eating “happy” (i.e. free range) chickens or pigs.


Why did you decide to enter the competition?

With my son about to start full-time at school I had one of those rare opportunities in life to start afresh and decide what I really wanted to do.  MasterChef offered me a way of propelling myself towards that goal, as well as providing me with the sort of huge and exciting challenge which is incredibly tempting after four years of being a mother at home. I would love to write about food, ingredients and cooking, and also to teach as many people as possible how to cook really good, wholesome and delicious food for their family and friends.

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