BBC MasterChef’s best bits over the last 20 years – including blue cheese ice cream and Danny Dyer drama

webnexttech | BBC MasterChef's best bits over the last 20 years - including blue cheese ice cream and Danny Dyer drama

It’s the cooking show that’s had us glued to our screens for the last two decades – and not always because of the food. MasterChef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace are tonight back with their 20th series since taking over in 2005. Since the revamp, the show has established itself as Britain’s most popular cookery programme, plus there are Celebrity, Professionals and Junior spin-offs. It has also become a global phenomenon, with versions in more than 50 countries including South Korea, Ukraine and Brazil. To celebrate MasterChef’s milestone, here Mirror journalist Sanjeeta Bains remembers some of the show’s most mouth-watering moments… and disgusting disasters. Viewers back the ‘happiest man alive’ The whole of the UK was rooting for cheery Welshman Joe Ludlow back in 2016. Described by one fan as “the happiest man alive”, Joe, 78, from Bridgend, was also the show’s oldest-ever contestant. Although Gregg and John were unconvinced when he paired a creamy mustard sauce with crab cakes, he got through the first TV round and wowed in the next with a main dish of pan-fried pork. Unfortunately, Joe served it about eight minutes too late. When he was booted off, social media went into meltdown. “Justice for Joe!” posted one disappointed viewer. Blue cheese ice cream fury Surprisingly, there have been several blue cheese ice cream dishes over the years, and things have got heated in the kitchen between John and Gregg on the subject. The unusual dessert was one of 2010 finalist Alex Rushmer’s efforts but it did not tickle either of the judges’ tastebuds. Gregg told him: “I still have faith in you but you really can’t afford to keep on doing things like this.” Although Alex lost to Dhruv Baker, he went on to open an award-winning gastropub and currently runs Vanderlyle in Cambridge. In 2020 Series 16, blue cheese ice cream made another appearance, with John remarking, “I’ve yet to taste a blue cheese ice cream I like but today might be the day!” It wasn’t. This time, Gregg told John he enjoyed the dessert, with John pulling a face and telling him: “Go away… nooo!” Gregg’s love of a good biscuit buttery base When Gregg isn’t tapping his watch and telling contestants to get a move on, he is showing his appreciation for a decent dessert. It has become a running joke for viewers as he has no poker face when judging a pud he enjoys. It’s always been fun to watch how much Gregg can scoop up. And it’s not just classic apple crumbles that get him going… One of his favourite desserts was by 2023 champion Chariya Khattiyot. She wowed a “highly addicted” Gregg with her take on Strawberries and Cream. She came up with a strawberry jelly and vanilla cremeux ring, filled with macerated strawberries in strawberry liqueur, pistachio sponge, strawberry shards and a Strawberry and Thai basil sauce. Kickstarting a UK Mexican foodie revolution Thomasina Miers won the competition in the very first series and remains the most successful MasterChef contestant. She was inspired to enter following a visit to Mexico which influenced her style of cooking. Privately educated, Thomasina triumphed thanks to her bold and eccentric recipes. In 2006, she co-founded Wahaca, a chain of Mexican “street food” restaurants—the first of its kind. There are now 14 Wahacas, with most branches in London as well as Brighton, Cardiff, and Edinburgh. Speaking of her experience later, Thomasina said: “After messing up my A-levels to getting sacked and made redundant from jobs, it was the first time in quite a long time that someone had said to me, ‘well done, you’re brilliant at this.’ Just having someone say, ‘we believe in you,’ was powerful.” Teenager Emily’s vermicelli makes John cry It can get quite emotional in the MasterChef kitchen –and that’s just the judges. Aged 18, Emily Ludolf was the youngest-ever finalist when she appeared in the 2008 series and is best remembered for making John well up in awe. After Emily served up her inspired combo –beetroot vermicelli with scallops and bacon, carrots, chervil and a fennel puree – John said: “Stunning… It’s got sour notes, it’s got sweet notes, it’s got soft bits, it’s got hard bits… “I’m fairly frightened to say anything in case I cry. You are incredible, I mean it.” “Oh, my goodness,” responded Emily. As she walked away, tearful John tried to compose himself by putting his hands over his face. Amazingly, Emily lost out to James Nathan, who took the crown that year. According to her LinkedIn profile, Emily now lives in Los Angeles and works as a freelance writer and editor. Danny Dyer drama In 2014 semi-finalists including eventual winner Ping Coombes were tasked with a catering challenge to a place not renowned for its fine dining – Albert Square. But there was, of course, plenty of drama getting dinner on the table for the 120 cast and crew – most notably a very hungry Danny Dyer, who played Mick Carter in the soap He said: “I wish they’d liven themselves up. 20 minutes I’ve been waiting.” There were tears in the kitchen as Ping peeled onions – while sucking a spoon. She explained to her baffled teammates: “I read somewhere that getting a spoon in your mouth stops you crying but clearly it doesn’t!” Meanwhile, the other team were using an oven that hadn’t been switched on. Sadly, when Danny’s main eventually arrived, he was served up freezing cold Guinea Fowl. John might like rhubarb a bit too much While Gregg loves puds, John demonstrated in 2017 how much he is a rhubarb man. The Aussie judge got a bit over-enthusiastic while sampling contestant Lorna Robertson’s dessert of honey-roasted rhubarb with ginger crumble, rhubarb jelly, rhubarb crisps, rhubarb and ginger puree with a rhubarb and custard shard. John told Lorna: “As a rhubarb lover I want more juice, but I want more of that..” Words appeared to fail him, so he resorted to loud slurping noises instead as well as wild upward and downward hand gestures as if he was an orchestra conductor. At the time, viewers took to Twitter to joke that Lorna would likely have nightmares because of John’s reaction as he sounded like Hannibel Lector slurping soup. Shelina’s million things to do with a mango John’s rhubarb passion is perhaps surpassed by 2012 winner Shelina Permalloo’s addiction to mangoes. In Series 8, almost every dish she served up contained the exotic fruit, with her later joking she had become the new face of mangoes in the UK. The British Mauritian home-taught chef had Gregg and John eating out of her hand with her gorgeous sunshine on a plate recipes—all executed to perfection. Her mango cannelloni filled with lime curd, coconut and rum blancmange samosas filled with white chocolate, crème fraîche, and mango jelly squares helped her storm to victory in the final. In 2016 Shelina opened her first restaurant Lakaz Maman in Southampton and has written two cookbooks. John and Gregg’s Salt-N-Pepa performance Giving his verdict on one contestant’s dish, John said: “Your sauce is rich and not too sticky to go with the fat-sticky pork belly. But you can push it, just a little bit more salt, a little bit more pepper, because besides that in my opinion it’s faultless.” After a pause, Gregg stepped in and said what we were all thinking but couldn’t quite believe. “Now I could be wrong, but I think John Torode just told you to push it with salt and pepper. I think he did,” he said. And then, of course, John performed a bit of Salt-N-Pepa with Gregg doing a little dance routine. “Push it real good!” Joyful.

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