Tom Rhodes has been crowned Masterfchef champion.
The amateur chef said he plans to “seize this opportunity” presented to him by the competition.
Rhodes became the 17th winner of the programme after seeing off competition from Mike Tomkins and Alexina Anatole in the final.
The final challenges in the competition saw Rhodes cook a five-course lunch for hospitality sector workers at Plaisterers’ Hall in the City of London and at restaurant Le Gavroche, where he worked with chef Michel Roux Jr.
How did Rhodes react?
The 31-year-old Nando’s front of house restaurant manager said winning MasterChef is a “dream come true”.
Rhodes told the PA news agency: “I entered last year because with lockdown it kind of really put into perspective and allowed me some time to think what I really wanted to do.
“Having been so interested in food for so many years and feeling ready to enter the competition, it felt like the right time, and now that I have won it I really can’t wait to see what’s next.
“I entered the competition really wanting to write about food and to share my love of food with people, but having also had the experience in the professional kitchens on the show, I certainly wouldn’t rule out having a restaurant now as well, but I think there’s a little bit more work that needs to be done before that dream is made a reality.
“Now that I have won the competition, I need to seize this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to what happens next.
“Having seen what past champions have done, it’s really exciting to think of the possibilities that are out there.”
Rhodes said he was “really shocked” at how much he had improved over the course of the competition, adding that lockdown “gave people a lot more time” to prepare for the show.
He added that he is feeling “very hopeful” about the future of hospitality despite the problems caused by the pandemic, saying he thinks the sector will “bounce back”.
“I know certainly myself I can’t wait to get back to restaurants with friends and family and I think a lot of people feel like that,” he said.
“I think it’s something people have really missed.
“I think people have got an even greater appreciation of things like eating out than they ever have before.”
Where does he work now?
Tom Rhodes currently works as a front of house manager at a Newcastle Nandos.
He has underlined his ambition to write a cookbook and launch a cookery school, however.
"One day I would 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.
"It would be great to spend time in professional kitchens as even after over 20 years of cooking I know I still have so much to learn. I’d also love to see more of East and South East Asia, to learn more about their food and culture."