- Single father Simon Wood, 38, fulfilled childhood dream of becoming a chef
- He beat mother-of-four Emma Spitzer and Tony Rodd, 33, from London
- Three finalists were challenged to cook a three-course meal in three hours
Winner: Simon Wood took home the TV crown
A single father of four was crowned MasterChef champion last night, fulfilling a dream to become a chef that he has nurtured since he was eight.
Simon Wood, 38, battled it out against Emma Spitzer and Tony Rodd as they were challenged to cook judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace a three-course meal in three hours.
The final followed seven weeks of tough challenges, including the 'chef's table', which involved cooking one of three courses on a menu set up by Italian chef Massimo Bottura.
It brings to an end the eleventh series of the popular BBC weekly amateur cooking contest.
Mr Wood, a data manager from Oldham in Greater Manchester, served a starter of octopus with chorizo and cannellini beans followed by a main of squab pigeon served two ways with blackberry sauce, watercress puree and carrots.
He finished with a dessert of lemon posset topped with seven garnishes – citrus tutti-frutti, charred grapefruit and orange, a lime tuile, limoncello pistachio crumb, edible flowers, tarragon leaves and a lime air.
After he presented the dishes to the judges, Torode said: 'Do you know why I love you? Because you take something quite ordinary and make it special.' Wallace said: 'Simon is brilliant, he's an incredible talent.'
After being crowned the winner, Mr Wood said: 'I'm shaking inside, it's so surreal, I can't begin to describe how happy I am. It's life changing.'
Finalist Mr Rodd, 33, is an architectural recruitment consultant from London, while Miss Spitzer is the managing director of a luxury travel business and mother to four daughters under nine.
Finalists: Simon Wood, 38, right, battled it out against Emma Spitzer, left, and Tony Rodd, centre, as they were challenged to cook judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace a three-course meal in three hours
Mr Wood said: 'I have been cooking since I could reach the top of the oven, and I always cooked at weekends with my grandma.
'When I was eight I won a competition where the prize was to have your dream job for the day and mine was to be a chef. Thirty years later who would have thought I would have the MasterChef trophy in my hands.'
FORMER MASTERCHEF COMPETITOR BECOMES FIRST WOMAN TO RUN LONDON'S PRESTIGIOUS SAVOY GRILL IN RESTAURANT'S 126-YEAR HISTORY
Momentous: Kim Woodward is the first woman to be appointed head chef at the Savoy Grill
A former MasterChef semi-finalist has become the first woman to run the prestigious Savoy Grill kitchen in its 126-year history.
Kim Woodward has been appointed head chef at the famous venue, which has hosted lunches for the likes of prime ministers, musicians and captains of industry for decades.
The 34-year-old follows in the footsteps of a string of maître chefs who have headed the kitchen since its opening in the Strand, London in 1889.
Ms Woodward, who lives in Camden, said: ‘It is an absolute honour for me to be the head chef here in one of London’s most iconic restaurants. Obviously there is so much history here, and the people who come through the door come here for the classic dishes that the Grill is famous for.’
At the five-star, art deco Grill, which is now part of the Gordon Ramsay stable, Woodward will head a team of about 35 chefs, of whom some 40 per cent are women.
It marks her return to the venue — she was a sous chef between 2010 and 2012, before becoming head chef at the York & Albany gastropub in Camden. She reached the semi-final of the 2011 series of MasterChef: The Professionals.