MasterChef winner: Tom Rhodes crowned 17th champion

·3 min read
John Torode and Gregg Wallace
John Torode and Gregg Wallace hosted Tuesday's rescheduled final

A former Nando's worker has become the latest winner of BBC One's amateur cookery series MasterChef.

Tom Rhodes was crowned champion after cooking a five-course lunch for lockdown heroes and serving up a dish at renowned restaurant Le Gavroche.

The 31-year-old from Newcastle saw off competition from fellow finalists Mike Tomkins and Alexina Anatole.

The final had been postponed following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.

The BBC replaced scheduled programming with news coverage about Prince Philip, with EastEnders among the other programmes affected and BBC Four taken off air completely.

However, the scale of content devoted to the 99-year-old duke's death reportedly sparked a large number of complaints.

The rescheduled show saw the final trio fight to impress hosts Gregg Wallace and John Torode with three signature dishes.

Mike Tomkins, Alexina Anatole and Tom Rhodes are the BBC MasterChef finalists 2021
Mike Tomkins, Alexina Anatole and Tom Rhodes were the BBC MasterChef finalists 2021

But it was Rhodes' Japanese-infused starter, main and dessert which proved victorious, making him the long-running programme's 17th winner.

Complimented for "a style bordering on minimalism" by Wallace, Rhodes served a trio of oysters for the starter, including a beer-battered oyster with a Japanese sour plum mayonnaise.

For Torode, it was Rhodes' main of reverse-seared ribeye steak topped with beetroot pickled in a Japanese seaweed and a wasabi leaf that was "modern" and "really very clever indeed".

His dessert of a lemon tart topped with black olive meringue also received universal praise from the hosts.

"What he's absolutely brilliant at is European-style of cookery, with Japanese flavourings," Wallace said.

Speaking after filming ended, Rhodes said he would one day "love to write a cookbook and have a cookery school".

"During the competition, I have realised my love for developing recipes and cooking for other people outside of my friends and family, so would love to do more of this after the show," he said.

Tom Rhodes' winning menu

A trio of oysters cooked by Tom Rhodes
Tom Rhodes' trio of oysters were hailed for their minimalist presentation
  • Starter: A trio of oysters. One topped with an apple, cucumber and saké granita, one beer-battered oyster with a Japanese sour plum mayonnaise, and one grilled oyster cooked in miso and seaweed butter, topped with panko breadcrumbs

  • Main: Reverse-seared rib-eye steak, topped with beetroot pickled in Japanese seaweed and a wasabi leaf, with salt-baked beetroot cooked in beef fat, wasabi buttermilk and watercress purée. With a sake and bone marrow sauce

  • Dessert: Japanese-inspired lemon tart, flavoured with yuzu citrus fruit, topped with black olive meringue and served with olive oil ice cream sprinkled with sea salt flakes

First broadcast in 1990, MasterChef is one of the BBC's longest-running reality series and has inspired the popular spin-off MasterChef: The Professionals.

The latest series was produced under coronavirus restrictions, with many of the series' traditional assignments adjusted to allow for social distancing.

While viewers found out who won last night, Rhodes has had to keep his victory a secret since the end of last year, when filming concluded.

He told BBC Breakfast on Thursday that the only other people who knew the result were his parents who were sworn to secrecy.

"You've seen the clip last night where I rang my mum on screen," he said. "They've found it more difficult to keep secret than I have".

Rhodes said taking the trophy was "a dream come true" and confirmed his further ambitions to become a food writer and maybe even open his own restaurant one day.

He said he was able to practise his winning dish two or three times before the final, but has not cooked it again at home since.

"I'm waiting until I can cook it for somebody and I've got a lot of requests for that so far," he grinned.

When possible though, he plans to celebrate with "a really good pizza" and "maybe a bottle of red".

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