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If, like me, you have been following the emotional rollercoaster ride of the final 3 contestants in this year's BBC Masterchef competition on BBC 2, you will know what I mean by the relief I personally felt now that it is all over!
When, on last Thursday evening, after the final cookery challenge, the deserving winner (in my opinion) was crowned, I sat on the edge of my seat, no doubt along with millions of others (5.7m tuned in to be exact!) in their own homes throughout the UK, and could have wept for joy (I resisted).
When Jonathan Nathan won the hotly contested MasterChef final, he had tears in his eyes. And he wasn't the only one. On sofas across the country, viewers sobbed as the barrister who gave up everything to pursue his dream of culinary stardom achieved his goal.
"It's the most exciting competition so far," judge and chef John Torode declared. "Every year it gets better and better."
It is very easy to group all the currrent genre of 'Reality TV' programmes and 'Star-making' competitions together and be dismissive of the lot. But, I think that in some cases, this being one of them, these programmes offer a real starting block for amazing talent.
Week after week very competent amateur cooks took part in gruelling gastronomic tasks, only to be whittled down to these last three contestants.
Jonathan Nathan 34.
A softly spoken hippy-ish type whose mastery of classical French cuisine appeared to rival Gordon Ramsay's.
Emily Ludolph 18.
A wunderkind whose eccentric creations brought tears of joy to the eyes of Torode no fewer than five times. Now 19, she was taking her A-Levels during filming. Naturally, she scored straight A's and got into Oxford.
Jonny Stevenson 32.
A Belfast bank manager and single father who taught himself to cook perfect bistro cuisine in a matter of months.
How on earth any of them managed to produce plates of beautiful (mostly!) food in the allotted times, creating their own recipes on the spot, sometimes from mystery ingredients, let alone hold their own in professional kitchens, I will never know!
I think the point is, though, that these are excellent amateur 'chefs' as opposed to just good cooks, who, by definition, follow other peoples recipes to varying degrees of competence and success.
While the latter needs a certain amount of ability (and I class myself in this group), knowing the basics from school 'cookery' lessons, and helping at home in the kitchen, the former amateur chefs, however, are true artists with imagination and flair.
So, back to Thursday evening, 28th February… Brian had just arrived home having driven the 750 miles, or so, from our house in France, just outside Roanne.
We sat ourselves down in front of the telly, as I rabbitted on about the last two episodes of MasterChef that he had missed whilst spending the last couple of weeks working in France.
We stopped in our tracks as the titles rolled out at the beginning of the programme, and we instantly recognised Michel Troisgros from what we consider to be our own local 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in Roanne – the famous Maison Troisgros. What a coincidence!
How fantastic to have this great eaterie, which we adore tremendously, and Michel, himself, owner and master chef de cuisine, featured on BBC TV, and coming to life in our own home -great fun!
We watched eagerly and even more intently.
Having dined at Maison Troisgros a few times over the years (when budgets would allow!), and having sung the praises of Michel Troisgros and his most wonderful hospitality, it was fantastic to see the Troisgros being lorded as one of the top restaurants in the whole of France (in fact, the world!)
(visit our blog: La Maison Troisgros in the Roannais)
We have heard many times of people travelling from all around the world just to eat at Maison Troisgros in Roanne. (Luckily, they also have a beautiful five star hotel on the premises!).
Mad as it may sound to some, if you are a connoiseur of fine food, believe me, it's worth it!
As one of our good friends in France says, if the budget is a problem then simply get everyone to put away just a few euros each month (the Troisgros Fund), until the required amount is gathered, then go celebrate – Santé !!
Of course, if you do not want to wait then you could sample a 'taste' at their 'bistro-style' restaurant next door – 'Le Central' – and have a fabulous meal in very friendly family surroundings for a fraction of the cost.
Happy cooking and happy eating!
Visit the BBC website for more information on MasterChef at: www.bbc.co.uk/food