THE ovens are firing up for another series of MasterChef.
As the contestants set out to impress the judges, we take a look at where the past winners are now…
Series one – Thomasina Miers – 2005
Thomasina was a bit of a foodie before the show, as she was already a freelance food writer.
After winning the contest, the Cheltenham chef fronted two cookery series on Channel 4 and published her own cookery book.
She worked at London's Petersham Nurseries with celebrated chef Skye Gyngell, before opening the Mexican restaurant Wahaca, in Covent Garden.
She has now expanded the brand into a nationwide chain of restaurants and street kitchens.
Since the show she and husband Mark Williams have also had two children – Tatyana, six, and Ottilie, three.
Series two – Peter Bayless – 2006
The former advertising man, Peter Bayless, said winning the show changed his life.
He wrote a book about his experience – called My Father Could Only Boil Cornflakes – and went on to cook at the celebrated restaurant Le Gavroche.
He said: “Suddenly my lifelong passion for food, its preparation and its cooking were allowed to come to the forefront of my existence, rather than remaining no more than a hobby or pastime.”
He now cooks at various French restaurants and is working on his second book.
Series three – Steven Wallis – 2007
Steven worked in the fashion industry before turning his attention to food.
He bagged the title in series three and then packed in his job and went around the world, expanding his culinary horizons.
He then became a writer, private chef and a flavour consultant.
He is now Group Head of Culinary Innovation at 2 Sisters Food Group, whose factories produce packaged foods including Goodfellas pizzas and Fox’s Biscuits.
Series four – James Nathan – 2008
The former criminal lawyer went from the courtroom to the kitchen after winning MasterChef, landing his first chef’s job at Bentleys Oyster Bar in Piccadilly.
He moved on to Michael Caine’s Bath Priory before working with Rick Stein at his Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall.
After running his own restaurant The Green Room at the Retallack Resort and Spa, he became an executive chef at the St Enodoc Hotel, also in Cornwall, in 2016.
He also runs a private catering business called By James Nathan.
Series five – Mat Follas – 2009
The New Zealander originally went back to his job in IT before finally getting the backing for his own restaurant and opening The Wild Garlic, in Beaminster, Dorset.
The business closed in 2013, months after relocating, and Mat went on to write two cookbooks – Fish and Vegetable Perfection.
He and wife Amanda now own the Bramble Cafe and Deli in Poundbury, Dorset.
Series six – Dhruv Baker – 2010
Born in Mexico and raised in India, Dhruv brought some interesting flavours to the MasterChef table – and went on to work with Michel Roux Jr at Le Gavroche and at De Librije in Holland.
He published his first recipe book, Spice, in 2014.
He now co-owns catering company Earlsfield Kitchen and the Jolly Gardeners pub in Earlsfield, London.
Series seven – Tim Anderson – 2011
The American bar manager has a passion for Japanese food, which he picked up as a teenager after watching a TV cookery show.
Since winning in 2011, Tim has worked in the kitchen of La Gavroche and The Fat Duck and has been a regular presenter on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube and Drinks Tube, and a frequent guest on the Radio 4 food panel show The Kitchen Cabinet.
He now runs the Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban in Brixton and has published a book of recipes served there.
Series eight – Shelina Permalloo – 2012
Born in Southampton, of Mauritian stock, the former project manager published her first cookbook Sunshine On A Plate a year after her win and her second, The Sunshine Diet, in January 2015.
She has since opened a Mauritian street food kitchen called Lakaz Maman in her home city.
Series nine – Natalie Coleman – 2013
The Hackney credit controller was a part-time techno DJ before taking the MasterChef crown.
She has since worked in celebrated restaurants including Le Gavroche, the Gilbert Scott and the Hand & Flowers.
She is now head chef at the Winchmore pub in North London and teaches both children and adult cookery classes.
Series 10 – Ping Coombes – 2014
The Malaysian describes herself as “a home cook who was propelled into a ‘dream come true’ world of cooking” with her MasterChef win.
Being made redundant spurred her on to apply to the show and her Malaysian meals impressed all the judges.
Since winning, Ping has run street food classes and set up a company, Ping's Pantry.
She is now the executive chef of Chi Kitchen, the pan-Asian restaurant in Debenhams's flagship Oxford Street store. In May 2016, she released her first cookbook, Malaysia: Recipes From A Family Kitchen.
Series 11 – Simon Wood – 2015
Lancashire contestant Simon was a data manager before his MasterChef win and soon switched careers.
He combined his love of food and football to become Executive Chef at his beloved Oldham Athletic and is a columnist in Lancashire Life.
He is about to open his first restaurant, Wood, in Manchester.
His first recipe book At Home With Simon Wood was published in April 2016.
Series 12 – Jane Devonshire – 2016
Mum-of-four Jane appealed to the nation’s hearts as well as their stomachs with her sweet nature and homegrown cookery skills.
She says she is “still cooking, still learning and still loving it” and in the last year she has cooked with top chefs including Michel Roux, Jason Atherton, Michael O’Hare, Marcus Wareing and Atul Kochhar.
She has also been travelling all over the country, teaching and appearing at food festivals and is currently writing her first gluten free cookbook.
Series 13 – Saliha Mahmood Ahmed – 2017
Saliha's day job is as a hospital doctor specialising in Gastroenterology.Since winning the show with her fusion style cuisine, she has hosted cookery classes, appeared at food shows and even collaborated with Michelin Star chef Atul Kochar.
Her debut cookbook Khazana will be published in September 2018 and will explore the culinary heritage of Indo-Persia and the Mughal Empire inspired dishes.
Series 14 – Kenny Tutt – 2018
Kenny is a bank manager who lives in Worthing, West Sussex, with his wife and two children.
He says his fondest memory of food was that his mum cooked a lot.
He said his job with the bank was his first "proper" job – and he's worked there for 15 years.
Kenny says he appeared on MasterChef because he wanted to try something different.
Series 15 – Irini Tzortzoglou – 2019
Irini, 61, is an amateur cook who is originally from the Greek island of Crete.
She formerly worked as a banker until she was 50.
She now lives in Cumbria and previously studied at Kingston University in London.
How does MasterChef work?
The format of MasterChef sees amateur cooks competing through a variety of heats, quarter finals, knockouts, semi-finals and an intense finals week until the ultimate winner is crowned.
“Competitors face a gruelling series of culinary challenges as they first have to get through their heat and quarter final.
“From inventing dishes on the spot, to cooking their own menu for the nation’s fiercest food critics, the pressure is on from the very outset.
“Only a handful survive to take part in the semi-final and final challenges.”
Gregg Wallace and John Torode judge the dishes being served – with all the action, tantrums, successes and burning disasters caught on camera.
The winner walks away with a trophy and the prestige of being THE master chef of the series.
When is MasterChef: The Professionals 2018 final on BBC Two?
The final episode of the popular show will air tonight (December 20, 2018) at 8pm on BBC Two.
It usually airs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights for seven-weeks taking us up to Christmas.
This series saw a group of hopefuls get whittled down through various gruelling stages until now, when one talented foodie will rule them all.
If you have missed any episodes you can catch-up on BBC iPlayer.
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