A Guildford resident has made it to the semi-finals of the BBC’s cooking show MasterChef.
Mike Tomkins, 27, has been competing against other amateur cooks and presenting food to judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace on the hit show which began airing on March 1.
Speaking to SurreyLive ahead of the semi-finals broadcasting, Mike said food has always been a big part of his life and his earliest memories are being in the kitchen with his mother.
Mike, a senior sales executive, said: “For as long as I can remember I was in the kitchen. It has always been one of those things that mum taught me from a very young age and I love going into the kitchen because you forget about everything else.”
His style is heavily influenced by his Italian roots on his mother’s side of the family, and the passion for food has been passed on by his grandmother, or nonna.
She was born near Naples and moved to Old Woking with her husband at a young age in search of better job prospects. As she is proudly watching Mike on MasterChef there have been “a few tears”, he added.
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Last week, viewers of the BBC series found out Mike had done enough to get to the semi-finals.
Recalling the moment he found out, Mike said: “It’s a strange mixture of emotions. It’s a massive amount of relief that what you have done is good enough. But I’m quite competitive so it was going home, have a small celebration and then back to the drawing board of how to get through to the next round.”
Being part of the show he has met co-presenters John Torode and Gregg Wallace who Mike described as “really nice blokes”. He added: “It surprised me how nice they were and how much they put you at ease. They are very genuine.”
MasterChef has set out to find the UK’s best amateur cook and being part of the programme could be life-changing for Mike.
Currently working in sales for a tech firm, cooking is a passion he is keeping up on the side of his day job. But Mike has always had an ambition to make it his profession.
His passion really grew when he was a student at Bournemouth University as he cooked for friends. “I spent pretty much all my student loan on food,” he added.
“[By going on the show] I did want to see how good I was and if I have the potential to follow it as a career. But whatever happens in MasterChef, it [cooking] will always be a part of our life. Our family life literally revolves around food so I could never change that even if I wanted to,” he said.
Although filming for the series has already completed, Mike has been sworn to secrecy and cannot reveal what happens beyond confirming he is a semi-finalist.
You can watch Mike in the MasterChef kitchen on BBC iPlayer now. You can also follow Mike’s journey on Instagram by following the handle @thenotecook.