MASTERCHEF 2015 CHAMPION REVEALED
Data manager, Simon Wood, 38, has been crowned the MasterChef 2015 Champion, it was announced today (FRI), fulfilling a dream to become a chef that he has had since he was just eight years old.
After an incredible seven weeks of seriously intense challenges and an extremely close final cook-off, Simon Wood was awarded his title of MasterChef Champion 2015 by judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
Simon said: “I’m shaking inside, it’s so surreal. I can’t begin to describe how happy I am; it’s totally emotional!”
He continued: “I can’t believe it. It’s life changing, it’s everything I wanted it to be and more besides.”
John Torode said: “What a champion, what a cook! This years MasterChef has seen a revolution; the benchmark has just been raised!”
He added: “Simon’s food has been brilliant, it’s delicious, it’s refined - and we get to put him out into the real world.”
Gregg Wallace added: “Simon is brilliant, he’s an incredible talent. He came in here with enormous ambition, he wanted to cook like a chef, and right now he is. I have no doubt in my mind that Simon is going to have a professional career in food.”
Simon battled his way from 40 contestants through to the final three and throughout the final week and alongside other finalists, Emma Spitzer and Tony Rodd, had to demonstrate his creativity, skill and utter determination as the finalists undertook serious and life-changing challenges.
Over the past week viewers have seen Simon: cook a celebratory dinner in honour of Sir Winston Churchill, travel across Europe to Sweden and cook on open fires without gas and electricity with the extraordinary chefs who are redefining fine dining; challenged to cook exceptional fish for two Michelin starred chef Nathan Outlaw; and in the penultimate show, cook for the Chef’s Table, which was this year presided over by Massimo Bottura, the three Michelin-starred chef of Osteria Francescana fame in Modena, Italy.
The final task was to prepare a three-course meal for judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Simon’s winning menu consisted of: a starter of Octopus, served with chorizo crisps, cannellini bean and chorizo salad, brunoise tomatoes and a sherry and smoked paprika vinaigrette; a main course of Squab Pigeon served two ways – roasted breast, and a pigeon leg bon-bon, stuffed with pigeon leg meat, chicken, mushroom duxelle and Armagnac, served with three types of heritage carrots, pommes parisienne, girolle and trumpet mushrooms, carrot puree, watercress puree and a cassis jus; with a dessert of Lemon Posset topped with citrus tutti-frutti, charred grapefruit and orange, a lime tuile, limoncello pistachio crumb, edible flowers, tarragon leaves and a lime air.
Simon’s passion for cooking started when he was just eight years old and he won a competition to be anything for a day, and he chose to be a chef. Simon explained: “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!
“I have four children and I became a dad at a young age which meant I needed to secure a job where I could financially provide for my children, so my dreams of being a chef were always on the back burner.
“Then after years of sitting watching and wanting to try, but never quite being brave enough or the time not being right I decided to stick my neck out and see if I had what it takes. I decided to enter to prove to myself I could compete with the best.”
Speaking on the highs and lows in the competition, Simon said: “I’ve had low points, but you learn from your mistakes. Nerve wracking, Intimidating, daunting and exciting are a few of the adjectives I’d pick to describe cooking for John and Gregg, but for me this is a dream come true and everything I wanted it to be. You get good, well-advised honest feedback, great guidance and excellent motivation.”
Despite the diversity and intensity of the later stages of the competition, Simon said the heats were his biggest challenge: “Without a shadow of a doubt the toughest moment in the competition was in my heat, cooking the eight dishes for the previous champions, John and Gregg, all in one hour 15 minutes. The pressure of cooking for people you want to impress and who have excelled in the competition before you, that and the fact I dyed John Torode’s tongue green! It was an eventful 75 minutes for sure!”
Simon is now planning his future in food. He said: “My dream is to make a living doing something that I love - cooking, and hopefully give people a great memory and experience along the way.”
He continued: “My areas of passion include fine dining and the art of plating - I would love to teach people at some point. Basically if it’s making food, eating, drinking or talking about cooking…I’m going to love it!”
Simon was born and grew up in Chadderton in Oldham. He is single and still lives in Oldham, where he shares time with his four children, Liam (20), Alex (18) Cameron (16) and Charlotte (7).