Stu Deeley has triumphed in the 2019 series of MasterChef: The Professionals.
The 28-year-old, who is head chef of a fine-dining restaurant in Birmingham, saw off competition from 47 others across seven weeks of culinary challenges.
He competed against Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga, 22, Olivia Burt, 24, and Yann Florio, 30, in the final week of challenges, with Yann eliminated on Wednesday night.
Judges Gregg Wallace, Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing chose Stu as the winner during Thursday’s denouement.
He said: “I can’t believe it. I’ve never won anything in my life so to win this today is such an unreal feeling. I’m so, so happy.
“It’s a great feeling that my food is of a style that people understand. That’s all I wanted.
“It’s been, honestly, one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I want that buzz and excitement to carry on.”
The last challenge saw each chef craft a final three-course menu for the judges in three hours.
Stu said his menu was based around the message that food has “no boundaries” and “any country, any area of the world can be fused together to make something delicious”.
He started with a soy and mirin smoked salmon ballotine with crispy salmon skin and cherry tomatoes marinated in dashi vinegar.
For his main he produced lovage and rosemary-brined guinea fowl topped with a yeast hazelnut crumb and a spiced guinea fowl sauce.
His dessert, inspired by his love of milk and cookies, was a cep mushroom and milk chocolate cookie, dusted in coffee cep powder with a milk chocolate and yoghurt cream.
Michelin star chef Wareing said: “Stu’s food is daring, it’s different. He came in here to find confidence. Look at the chef that’s going to leave this competition – what a star we have found.”
Galetti added: “What a surprise this chef has been in the competition. Every dish brings an element of surprise. He is the complete package.”
Wallace said: “I love Stu’s food. Here’s a lad who has grown up in Birmingham and has fallen in love with the flavours that surrounded him.
“There is a proper Stu original stamp over everything he does. It’s different and it’s brilliant. He cooks in a style of his own. I don’t mind saying it, I think he is unique.”
Speaking about his next steps, Stu said: “My plans for the future are still under wraps, but I will be undertaking a project in Birmingham soon – watch this space.”