MasterChef 2013 winner revealed

Natalie is an incredible talent who grew in stature day after day. I don't think she is fully aware of how good she really is. I love her food because it comes straight form the heart.”Greg Wallace
Date: 02.05.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.07
Category: BBC One
Former credit controller and DJ, Natalie Coleman, 29, has been crowned the winner of MasterChef and is the third female to grab the title in nine years, it was announced today.

After an incredible eight weeks of seriously intense challenges, Natalie Coleman was awarded her title of MasterChef Champion 2013 by judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

Natalie says: “It's a dream come true! This is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me in my life. It's like a fairytale really, the girl from Hackney done good!”

John Torode said: “I think Natalie is destined for great things. She not only understands finery of great food but she cooks for the people, food that people want to eat. She makes people smile. And she’s not fazed by a thing.

He continued: “She also has a great palate and understands flavour combinations. Natalie's got it, she is a very very clever woman and her food is fantastic."

Gregg Wallace added: “Natalie is an incredible talent who grew in stature day after day. I don't think she is fully aware of how good she really is. I love her food because it comes straight form the heart.”

Natalie battled her way from 50 contestants through to the final three (all of whom are under 30 years old) and throughout the final week, and alongside other finalists Cardiffians Dale Williams and Larkin Cen, had to demonstrate her creativity, skill and utter determination as the finalists undertook serious and life-changing challenges.

These included travelling across Italy on a culinary odyssey - from the Amalfi Coast cooking with the legendary rustic cook Mamma Agata, to the world-famous Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence cooking three-Michelin-star food and delivering dishes that matched the exceptional standards required at this very highest level; then north to Fiesole to cater an elite lunch for the Florentine art world, and the most intimidating challenge set on MasterChef - The Chef’s Table - cooking an exquisite three-course menu designed by two Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan, for four of the world’s greatest three-starred chefs.

The final task was to prepare a three-course meal for judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Natalie’s winning menu consisted of a starter of Lobster Tail, accompanied by compressed Fennel, a Fennel puree and shavings, dressed with an Orange gel and Beurre Blanc, and Lobster oil; a main of Roast Pork Belly, Pork Tenderloin and a Black Pudding Quails Scotch Egg, served with a Pomme Puree, Caramalised Shallots and two sauces – an Apple sauce and a Honey Mustard; and a dessert of Vanilla Chocolate Panna Cotta topped with a tempered Bitter Chocolate Tuile with Caramelised Pears and a Trio of Hazelnut Crumble Biscuits.

Natalie, who is now planning her future in food, will first be appearing at the BBC Good Food Show Summer, along with Dale and Larkin, from 12-16 June.

She says: "I’m really excited that in a few weeks I’m going to be cooking live on stage alongside past winners including Shelina Permalloo, Keri Moss and Anton Piotrowski. My first time in front of a live big audience and to be doing so in front of such a foodie one, is a massive honour. See you there!"

Natalie, 29, who calls herself a ‘proper cockney’, was born in Hackney, and then moved to Chingford where she lived with her younger sister and both parents.

“My mum was a housewife, she pretty much gave up most of her life for me and my sister just to look after us. My dad wanted to be a boxer, but now he’s a black cab driver."

Natalie has been cooking for as long as she can remember, helping her nan in the kitchen since she was a young girl.

She says: “From an early age I was brought up around food. I used to spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my nan – she was a fantastic cook. She came from a large northern family, so they used to make the most of what they had. She could turn nothing into something brilliant; she used to make the best corned beef hash pie."

She is also very close to her Irish granddad and has spent the last two years cooking for him.

“I spend a lot of time with my granddad. My nan passed away quite a few years ago and my granddad’s not much of a cook; so I just thought I’d feed him up a bit!"

Natalie, whose two favorite things in life are food and music, has been working as a credit controller for 12 years and a DJ for five years, before deciding to pursue her dream of a future in cooking.

“I wanted to be a chef when I was 15, but then I went off the idea and wanted to be a PE teacher, then a fire fighter... But my mum said as I was good at maths, I should go and do something in finance. I’m quite good at what I do, but it’s not what I love."

From the start of the series, Natalie’s beautifully simple but inspired style delivered stunning flavours and impressive dishes.

John Torode says: “Natalie walked into this competition and we saw the potential; there was a sense between Gregg and I about what Natalie could become.”

Gregg Wallace adds: “She’s just full of surprises, she comes up with fantastic, stunningly beautiful dishes.”

Speaking on the highs and lows in the competition, Natalie says: “The low point for me was the Bond Girl challenge, it really stressed me out and sent me into a massive panic.

“Each round you learn something different about yourself and about food. There were just some amazing experiences - things that you never thought you’d get to do! It’s definitely been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It really makes you believe that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life now."

Of dreams for the future Natalie says: “I want to learn as much as possible under great chefs and possibly go into food writing once I’ve learnt a lot more about food. Depending on how good I get, my own restaurant one day would be amazing...”

Natalie lives in East London.

For further information, pictures or interviews with Natalie please contact Beverly Comboy 020 8995 3936 or bev@plankpr.com