Masterchef – The Professionals 2011: Everyone’s a winner…

Another diversion from the usual tech and travel diet, to something which might mean you need to go on a diet…

It’s the big final tonight of Masterchef – The Professionals, and we have three deserving finalists, angsty Aussie Ash Mair who battled on in an heroic-stylee despite getting hot fat splashed in the eye to produce an amazing main course last night, “Spiky” Steve Barringer making delightful desserts from disaster-zone-looking messy workspaces, and clever Brummie Claire Hutchings, who has made some amazing food during the series with brave flavour combinations, all the more astonishing considering she was 22 at the time they made the programme.

So, who’s going to nail it tonight?

Despite wanting Claire to win, my money is now on Ash. He’s consistent in so many ways – quality of the cooking, the high standard of presentation, and after a shaky start being criticised over weak or bland flavours, he’s learned something, now packing a real punch with his seasoning and sauces. He’s even consistent at looking totally embattled and under siege, yet still manages to bring it all together and plate up on time.

While Claire’s scallop sashimi for the chefs’ table last night was definitely brave and innovative, it wasn’t a plate I’d have wanted to eat. It felt like a step too far. Sometimes simple is good, less is more. It just might have been her undoing. It’s a shame, because throughout the series, Claire has just “got it”, time and time again.

But, they all have learned something along the way – Ash with flavours, Claire with preparation, timing and organisation during plateing up, and Steve with keeping it simple and keeping everything cleaned down – which is why they are here in the final.

While there can only be one champion, all three are winners, and deserve to go on to great things.

The final of Masterchef: The Professionals 2011 is on BBC Two tonight at 8pm.