Belfast Telegraph

Lisa beats old soldier Dick to win Celebrity Masterchef final

By Amanda Poole

Dick Strawbridge was still smiling underneath that famous bushy moustache last night after being pipped to the title of Celebrity Masterchef by actress Lisa Faulkner.

The Ulsterman had spent several months battling to reach the finale of the popular cooking competition.

There was no clear winner going into the final test of the long-running series and judge Gregg Wallace predicted the fight for the title would be close, referring to it as a definite “three horse race.”

Eccentric Dick faced tough competition from TV personality Christine Hamilton and eventual winner Faulkner.

The work ethic of the former military man was tested to the limit in the high pressure kitchen environment as he, Christine and Lisa served up three course meals for the shows presenters.

Faulkner (38) ultimately proved to be the best cook in the room, impressing the judges with her creativity, skill and determination. Australian chef John Torode praised her “natural touch and fantastic palette”.

The often nervous competitor was delighted with her success, saying: “I’ve never won anything before.”

In the run up to last night’s climax, the finalists faced different challenges, including cooking on the Orient Express and making a meal for some of the country's most high profile chefs, including Michelin star Frenchman Michel Roux Jr.

Throughout the five week competition Dick demonstrated a flair for combining exciting ingredients and he said he was, “happy with what I have achieved”. He served a seafood broth as his starter, followed by rabbit with mustard dumplings, cream and cider and a rhubarb and ginger crumble for pudding.

Lieutenant-Colonel Strawbridge was awarded an MBE in 1993 for service in Northern Ireland. He left the army in 2001 and has pursued a career as a TV presenter.

He acknowledged his army career prepared him to handle the high-stress kitchen scenarios he was faced with and he said he was proud to be the last man standing in the competition.

John Torode described Dick’s menu as, “absolutely elegant, perfectly cooked food”. Gregg Wallace said the cheery environmentalists food was: “Always about flavour. For Dick, flavour is king.”

His final offering was described as: “Dick at his absolute best. He’s a clever man and a clever cook. He has done an amazing job.”

The self proclaimed “tele-tart” said Masterchef was one of the “toughest challenges ever.” and because his confidence built during his time on the show he now thought about food in a new way.

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