MASTERCHEF star Daniel Graham was pipped to the winner’s title in last night’s final – but he still managed to land a dream job with double Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux.
Northumberland-born Daniel made it to the last three contestants in the BBC cookery show MasterChef: The Professionals, but he was beaten to the winner’s gong by rival Steve Groves.
But 27-year-old Daniel, who is originally from Haltwhistle, in the South Tyne Valley, impressed judge Michel Roux so much he has been offered a job at his elegant London restaurant, Le Gavroche.
Last night he said: “I’m pleased with how I got on and I know it was a close call. It was just an amazing journey and I loved every minute of it.
“I start at Le Gavroche on November 2 and that’s a fantastic endorsement for me. It’s one of the best restaurants in the world and I can’t believe I’ve been given this opportunity.
“The whole thing has changed my life and it’s been absolutely fantastic. Steve is a very worthy winner and we’ve become good friends through this whole thing.”
Michel Roux and judge Gregg Wallace have spent weeks on the hunt for a young chef who wants to make it to the top of the culinary world.
And as the heat was turned up in the final week, Daniel, alongside fellow finalists Marianne Lumb and Steve Groves, had to take on a series of challenges.
They included cooking a Michelin-starred level high tea at London restaurant Sketch for a selection of the world’s greatest pastry chefs, including master patissier Michel Roux.
The hopefuls also created a course each at Chelsea football club for 16 sporting VIPs, including double gold Olympic rower James Cracknell and England cricket star Kevin Pietersen – but the pressure nearly boiled over when a fire alarm went off.
The finalists also prepared a course each for more than 30 Michelin-starred chefs.
Despite his best efforts Daniel was unable to beat the competition and secure the winner’s gong. Last night he said he still dreamed of returning to the North East and setting up his own restaurant on Newcastle’s Quayside.
He said: “I still want to set up my on place in Newcastle but I don’t want to do that until I have the right experience. The show has given me an amazing opportunity and it was incredible to be part of it.
“To get the chance to cook for sporting legends and then have a beer and a chat afterwards was amazing.” Daniel, who previously worked at Northumberland’s Matfen Hall Hotel, fought off competition from some of the country’s top rising stars to make it to the last week of the series.
Daniel studied at Haydon Bridge High School before moving to Carlisle to complete an NVQ in food preparations. He then returned to Northumberland to work at Slaley Hall, followed by a stint at Langley Castle Hotel, and then a move to Matfen Hall Hotel.
He left the job after the filming of MasterChef to live in London, where he is working for an agency and enjoying a taste of life in some of the capital’s best Michelin-starred restaurants.