Lecturer grills her MasterChef opposition

5th November 2010 at 00:00

A catering lecturer from Liverpool Community College has become the first female winner of the BBC show MasterChef: The Professionals.

Claire Lara took first place with a menu of sea trout with apple and watercress, wood pigeon in a rich red wine sauce, and white chocolate mousse, filo pastry dusted with dried raspberry powder and a raspberry and thyme jelly.

Ms Lara worked in Paris under legendary chef Alain Roux before returning to the North West of England and teaching at the college, to which she paid tribute on the show.

"It's a brilliant, brilliant job. I teach youngsters; we give them a trade, an opportunity, give them options. I just get quite a lot of satisfaction from passing on knowledge really.

"It's a great place to work, it really is. I just really, really enjoy it. My life is cooking: this is definitely more than a job to me, it's a way of life, no doubt."

Ms Lara, who lives with her French husband Marc, is on maternity leave from the college after giving birth to a boy. She was pregnant throughout the filming of the series without realising it.

The 30-year-old said she had put her daily sickness down to nerves until filming finished and she discovered she was three-and-a-half months pregnant. But she said it had given her an advantage in a heightened sense of smell and taste, while nervous rival David Coulson had also often felt sick before the show's challenges, albeit for different reasons.

The college may struggle to retain her services however, with a job offer already on the table from the show's judge, Michel Roux Jr. He said: "I think she's the most complete chef that I've come across. Not just in the MasterChef context, but anywhere, in the last five years. We started off the competition looking for a talent and we have uncovered a diamond. She has that exceptional talent that will take her to stardom."

Ms Lara said: "I hope my success will be an inspiration to my students and give them the drive and determination to go and achieve their own success."

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