Stu Deeley has been crowned MasterChef: The Professionals champion 2019 after a tough final week that saw him go up against Olivia Burt and Exose Grant Lopo-Ndinga.
In tonight's final the three were challenged to cook their three favourite dishes, with Deeley serving the judges a starter of with a soy and mirin-smoked salmon ballotine, with crispy salmon skin, cherry tomatoes marinated in dashi vinegar, chilli-flavoured taramasalata, smoked almonds and sorrel, served with a dashi-infused tomato essence. His main course was lovage and rosemary-brined guinea fowl, topped with a yeast hazelnut crumb, soy glazed guinea fowl thigh, hen of the wood mushrooms, celeriac purée, celeriac barigoule, lovage emulsion and a spiced guinea fowl sauce.
Finishing his winning menu - inspired by his love of eating milk and cookies – was a cep and milk chocolate cookie, dusted in coffee cep powder, a milk chocolate and yoghurt cream, a cookie tuille, cep caramel, coffee gel, salted milk ice cream and a coffee and milk and foam.
Judge Marcus Wareing told the 28-year-old from Birmingham his main course was "probably one of the best guinea fowl dishes I have ever eaten, I cannot fault that dish".
The chef has used Asian flavours throughout the competition in dishes that reflected the diversity of Birmingham's food scene. Greg Wallace told him: "You have learnt these flavours because they have been on the streets you live in and I have never seen fusion done as well as you do it."
On being named champion Deeley said: "I can honestly say there's no one more shocked than me to stand here with this trophy and be the champion. It's just unreal."
He added: "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 series had started with 48 contestants and after a month of unforgiving eliminations by judges Wallace, Monica Galetti and Wareing, just four finalists were left at the start of this week.
The have taken on a number of challenges, including serving a dish to a chef's table of many of the country's finest cooks.
On Wednesday evening 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. The three remaining chefs then travelled to learn from and work under the Portuguese chef José Avillez, at his flagship two-Michelin starred restaurant, Belcanto, before competing in the final challenge.
Deeley is head chef at Birmingham's Wilderness restaurant, but will leave the role later this week to take start his own project in the city.
He studied at Halesowen College and cites his biggest influences as Andreas Antona and Luke Tipping of Michelin-starred Simpsons Restaurant in Birmingham.
Commenting on his MasterChef experience, Stu said: "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 [Jack] that if you want something, you have to face your fears and go and get it. The most challenging part for me was the skills test. I just stopped thinking like a chef!
"Winning is not something I ever believed I could do. It's been an amazing feeling to keep passing each round and beating my own expectations.
"When Jack watches this back on the telly, I don't think he'll understand how difficult it's been to be away from him. But it's all worth it. Jack's going to be proud of his dad!"