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Guess what Masterchef finalist Louise Minchin is cooking up at home in Chester

Culinary confessions of a Chester-based BBC Breakfast presenter

Louise Minchin in action on Masterchef

Chester-based BBC presenter Louise Minchin has confessed to having been unable to spell hollandaise, let alone make it, before her stint as a contestant, and eventually finalist, on the BBC One cookery programme MasterChef.

The mum-of-two admitted that ‘never in a million years’ did she expect to reach the final, which was broadcast on Friday, July 29, and saw her pit her wits and culinary talents against eventual winner Alexis Conran and chirpy chappie Jimmy Osmond.

Speaking to the Chronicle, Louise described her erstwhile abilities in the kitchen as being able to put together carrots and houmous - “but I wouldn’t have made the houmous.”

She added: “I did cook when I needed to but my husband David is such a brilliant chef that I left a lot to him. Sunday lunch would definitely have been his domain.”

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When asked what her daughters’ favourite meal was, whenever she did put on a pinny, she said: “Mango chicken. It was delicious but essentially it was made by opening a jar of mayonnaise and a jar of mango chutney, mixing them together and putting it on the chicken!”

But now, having created a fantastic finale of venison carpaccio, fish and a mille-feuille stack of raspberry and brandy snaps, with ginger ice cream, life in the kitchen at Minchin Mansions has taken an upward turn.

Tuna carpaccio is now on the menu for lunch at home

“I thought it would be a massive challenge on the one hand and quite relaxing and therapeutic on the other,” said Louise, when asked why she signed up for the job in the first place.

“I found cooking quite a chore and hoped I would learn something and start to enjoy it.

“To be honest, I had never even bought venison, let alone cooked it!

“The experience has made me utterly change my approach. I can’t believe I am now cooking things from scratch and planning.”

Before the programme, Louise and husband David started experimenting with food at home in the hope that she could stay in the contest past episode 1.

Butter bean pesto pomegranate salad is something Louise has created at home since getting to the final of MasterChef

“I just kept improving,” Louise laughed. I would go down to London to film and then ring home to say that I was staying on.

“I was absolutely staggered when I kept on making it through and would tell the family: ‘I will be here for another day’.

“The most challenging aspect of the show was the invention tests when we had no recipe, just ingredients and were asked to create something inspired by, say, an American diner.”

It is evident that Louise’s creative juices flowed and now she says she can’t make anything without thinking about the presentation.

Louise with MasterChef winner Alexis Conran and fellow finalist Jimmy Osmond

She said: “The girls asked me the other day if they could just have fish fingers. Next minute I know I am creating a neat stack. Now I won’t serve rice unless it is in a little mound.

“And lunch is no longer just a fried egg - I will make an omelette or scrambled eggs with a pinch of chilli and spring onions.”

And it’s not just the family who are impressed with Louise’s new found skills. Friends are eager to get the recipe for her passionfruit and white chocolate cheesecake and booking in for a dinner date with her signature chicken curry.

Louise is hoping to get along to the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre in Chester this season but her picnic will be no sandwich and packet of crisps affair.

She said: “I think I will do steamed asparagus wrapped in Parma ham, with mayonnaise.” Homemade of course.

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