Gregg Wallace and John Torode talk about food like they are shouting at the football on TV.
Other than when the MasterChef hosts are purring, that is – which they have been doing a lot about Claire Fyfe’s dishes recently.
The interior designer from Nine Elms, Battersea, has made the odd miss-step – her lamb was so underdone it might have started chewing the salad.
The 35-year-old is one of 10 now competing to be in the semi-finals, on BBC1 tonight, where she has to make nine canapes – that’s party food to us non-chefs.
One contestant will be sent home and their dream of raising the MasterChef 2020 trophy will be over.
In last Tuesday night’s quarter final, John Torode dubbed her “One to watch” and described the veal dish she cooked as “ precise” and “exceptional”.
For her traditional Italian dish of veal and tuna, she added her own twist by adding a salsa verde and slow cooked fennel – which Torode said was inspired.
One of Claire’s biggest fans is Jane, a woman she knows from her local Waitrose in Nine Elms. “But I have seen other people do a double-take while I’m out running in Battersea Park,” said the trainee pilates instructor. “But then they go to themselves ‘Nah’.
“I know it sounds cheesy but cooking calms me. One of my best mates lives in Majorca so I’ve been going there for years. It would be lovely to be able to have a boutique hotel there or Minorca or Ibiza.”
John and Greg are not so shouty off-camera, she says. “They were amazing to work with,” she said. “They are two of the loveliest men – and work so well together. I have been so nervous when cooking, but they calm you – they want you to do well. And I have been so overwhelmed by the response.
“My favourite bit was working at Simon Wood’s restaurant in Manchester. I take my hat off to them – I’ve sat and enjoyed food at restaurants but see the work that goes into them – and the fun, the patience – was incredible.
“I have so much admiration for anyone who does that.
“I have had to keep quiet about what happens. I haven’t even told my dad.”
As well as beating eggs, she also has to beat the opposition. Also on at 8.30pm tonight is Thomas Frake, 32, from Tooting.
He works in international banking and finance uses cooking as his creative weekend outlet. Judges have fed back that he’s a great cook who clearly understands what he’s doing and produces really well cooked classics.
Another South Londoner on tonight is David Rickett, 31, from Greenwich.
The banking digital security manager studied art at university so craves a creative outlet. He won high praise for his restaurant-standard presentation.
Multi-talented Claire, who also paints – but mostly gives her pictures away – hasn’t tried to capitalise on the broadcast to create her hotel dream. “But everyone has been so positive and lovely,” she said. “If anything comes of it, I would be very happy – and lucky.”
If she does make it to running that eight-room hotel, as Greg and John know, the joy of cooking is when someone else does it.
MasterChef continues tonight, 8.30pm, BBC One
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