Tom Hamblet has been named the winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2023.
The 24-year-old sous chef crafted a “technical, beautiful and delicious” three-course menu in the final challenge – impressing judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace to beat Kasae Fraser and Tommy Thorn to the prestigious trophy.
After being crowned champion, Tom telephoned his parents – who are both chefs at the South Lodge Hotel in Horsham, Sussex, where he works in the three AA Rosette restaurant, Camellia.
“I remember the first few rounds as I was getting through, I didn’t really get much of a reaction out of my dad,” Tom said of his executive chef father.
“I felt like he sort of knew that I could go as far as I wanted. They were both really happy but he sort of was quite reserved with it.
“And then the further I started getting he started really being like ‘bloody hell – you’re doing it.’
“People will have seen his reaction when I called him to tell him I won – they had to bleep out his swearing.”
Tom said his pastry chef mother would “rush” to pick him up from the station after filming MasterChef each day “so she could hear all about it first”.
During the final three-hour challenge which aired on Friday night, Tom’s winning menu started with a poached native lobster tail with cherry tomatoes, while the main course was a seared beef fillet with an oyster mushroom and oyster tartare.
He finished with an olive oil sponge filled with an olive oil jam served with a fennel seed ice cream.
Tom said he went into the competition “hoping to just get past the first round”, but credits his father and girlfriend for pushing him to apply for the competition.
He said: “I used to watch it religiously when I was younger…I never thought I’d be on there myself and I (would) never have dreamt that I’d be standing there in that kitchen holding the trophy.
“And before the first day in MasterChef I did panic and watch six hours of it as research – I must have watched every skills test in the last four years.”
Tom said he is doing a restaurant takeover for three months from the start of January where he works at the Camellia restaurant to “progress my learning”.
“South Lodge is where I did my apprenticeship around all the sections, and I’ve worked there for the last couple of years so to now do a residency at Camellia feels like I’ve come full circle,” he said.
The chef added he would one day like to have his own restaurant but he does not want to “rush it” off the back of winning the BBC show.
MasterChef: The Professionals is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.