Shelina Permalloo has been crowned the winner of MasterChef by judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace, who said she brings “sunshine to a plate”.
The 29-year-old became the second woman to win the title in eight years after weeks of intense competition in the BBC1 culinary challenge, beating Andrew Kojima and Tom Rennolds.
She said: “I am completely and utterly overwhelmed. I never thought it was going to be me that would win. The guys were so amazing and I just never thought it could happen to me.”
Shelina, who lives in Tooting, south London, grew up in Southampton in a Mauritian family where she learned all about the food her parents grew up with.
She said: “My mum is a brilliant cook. I learnt everything from her. I’m basically her sous chef. She taught me to cook by intuition: never by using scales, always by sight and taste. So I developed a strong palate from a young age.
“I only ate Mauritian food growing up as it gave our family that affinity of being close to the island. Mauritian food is very frugal which is great in these economic climates but at the same time full of flavour, heady with aromatics, nutritional and damn tasty.”
She fought off competition from more than 20 other contestants during the show.
Along the way she cooked for royalty in Thailand, served a three-course meal for Michelin-starred chefs and finally cooked for presenters John and Gregg.
Her winning menu was an Octopus starter, mutton curry and a dessert of mango cannelloni with lime curd.
John Torode said: “What Shelina has done throughout this competition is outstanding. She is a very special cook with an exceptional talent, who always wears a smile and cooks with care to assault the senses and bring sunshine to a plate.”