North Suffolk man's dream dashed

SO NEAR, YET SO FAR...After months of basting and tasting, Chris Gates's dream of clinching the MasterChef title on TV were dashed at the final hurdle last night.


After months of basting and tasting, Chris Gates's dream of clinching the MasterChef title on TV were dashed at the final hurdle last night.

The 25-year-old Jobcentre Plus worker in Lowestoft (above) lost out to Mat Follas, who was crowned champion after all three finalists cooked a busy lunch service at a Michelin-starred restaurant and a sublime three-course meal for experts John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Undeterred, he is still pursuing his ambition to be a top chef - and is open to offers! Speaking to The Journal yesterday before a wrap party, Chris said: 'Obviously I was disappointed, absolutely, as it was a really intense two weeks, but part of me was relieved the whole thing had finished. When I looked back I didn't think I cooked to my best in the final and during the testing I knew Mat had edged it.'

The series was filmed between February and September last year, so Chris had to stay silent for about five months on the outcome. But the result has enabled him to return to his everyday life with his girlfriend Lucy in Halesworth, working by day at Jobcentre Plus in Clapham Road as a customer services adviser.

'I finished filming, did some interviews afterwards, had a drink with the crew and the rest of the guys and then it was back to Halesworth. The main thing, though, is that I achieved so much and I went home and couldn't really say anything about it. People were probably thinking I'd had a lot of time off work and probably wondered what I was up to!' he said.

But since this week's national media frenzy surrounding the finalists, he has been catapulted into the limelight.

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In the past few days Chris, who plays the drums in Lowestoft band Bejebus, has appeared on BBC Breakfast TV and in the national press before he travelled to London to watch the final at a restaurant with experts John and Gregg.

'It has been strange being thrown into the media world with the filming and then out again - back to normality - but I'm not going to let it go to my head,' he said.

During MasterChef Chris was asked to cater for the Royal household, for 200 guests at Burghley Horse Trials and the army, but his highlight was cooking at La Cote St Jacques in Joigny, France, which viewers saw last night.

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