The MasterChef: The Professionals 2019 final concludes tonight when either Olivia Burt, Stu Deeley or Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga will be crowned champion. The series started with 48 contestants and after a month of unforgiving eliminations by judges Gregg Wallace, Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing, just three remain.
Yesterday, in the second of a three-part final, the contenders bid farewell to Yann Florio who was sent home following a task that saw the chefs create a single exceptional and evocative dish inspired by a place that is special to them. Earlier in the week the four had cooked for a chef's table boasting some of the country's top cooks.
Tonight will see them cook the best three dishes of their lives before one is crowned MasterChef champion 2020.
Meet the finalists:
Olivia Burt, 24 is from London and is a sous chef at Claridge's in Mayfair.
Burt is the only female contestant remaining in the competition. She has had a passion for cooking from a young age and would create dishes during A-level study breaks to relax. She trained at the BallyMaloe cooking school in Ireland with Darina and Rachel Allen, then at Le Cordon Bleu in London and Paris.
Burt, who cites Simon Rogan as a key inspiration, was also a 2019 Roux Scholarship finalist.
A fan of British food and seasonal ingredients, Burt's flavour combinations and impeccable presentation have seen her through to the final.
She has said that in the future she would like to publish her own book and eventually launch her own restaurant.
Quote: “You’ve got to open your doors to every opportunity. Kitchens are tough places, it’s long hours, but you get the rewards too, more than in some other jobs.”
Stu Deeley, 28, is from Birmingham and is head chef of the city's Wilderness restaurant.
He studied cooking at Halesowen College and cites his biggest influences as Andreas Antona and Luke Tipping of Michelin-starred Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham.
Deeley says he is dedicated to learning intricate cooking techniques and has a passion for Asian flavours and dishes. Throughout the contest he has combined Indian and British flavours to create contemporary dishes that reflect the diversity of Birmingham’s food scene.
The chef will be leaving the Wilderness on 20 December but has yet to reveal where he is headed, although it is believed he will remain in Birmingham.
Quote: “I'm a person who sometimes lacks self-belief and I don’t like to push myself into the limelight. That's why I chose to enter the competition; to show my little boy that if you want something, you have to face your fears and go and get it.”
Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga
Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga is chef de partie – pastry at James Martin Manchester.
The chef has said his interest in baking was piqued by his mum's traditional African dishes and during a school cooking class his teacher was so impressed with his tomato sauce that she told all the other students to taste it. Exose credits that moment as inspiring him to pursue a career in food.
He studied food technology, hospitality and catering at Manchester Academy, and went on to study at South Trafford college.
At 17 he launched his own baking company and taught himself cake-decoration. His experience in pastry and ingenious desserts have propelled him to the MasterChef: The Professionals final.
Exose hopes to build on his skills in London kitchens and to develop his business.
Quote: "I've always felt most at home in the kitchen. It's where I come alive. It's no surprise to my family that I ended up becoming a chef. Though they've been quite taken aback to see me appearing on the telly!"
MasterChef: The Professionals, The Finals is on BBC Two on Tuesday 17, Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 December at 8pm.