Former England rugby captain Phil Vickery has been crowned winner of Celebrity Masterchef 2011 after cooking up a storm in the closely-fought final.

The 35-year-old father of two fought off competition from actor Nick Pickard and newsreader Kirsty Wark in the final, which followed six weeks of challenging culinary tests.

In the end, Gregg Wallace and John Torode judged Phil the winner after he served up a three course feast which began with scallops with black pudding, pea shoots, crispy parma ham and apple puree.

He followed that with lamb fillet, baby carrots, asparagus wrapped in mint and parma ham and fondant potatoes for the main course, and finished the meal off with orange and chocolate bread and butter pudding with clotted cream.

Phil said afterwards that he was “gobsmacked” to have won.

“I can’t believe it,” he said. “I dreamed of winning Masterchef but it was literally just a dream. I never thought for one second I’d have it in me to be champion – who says miracles can’t happen?”

John Torode said Phil had “something very very special. He wants to feed people to make them happy and that is what a true cook is all about.”

Gregg Wallace praised the rugby ace for his “serious” talent, and added, “He’s a great big bloke with a heart to match and he fell in love with food during this competition,” he said.