A north Northumberland woman is taking on her toughest challenge yet as a contestant on BBC cookery show Masterchef.
Lorna Robertson, from Berwick, will appear in tonight’s episode of the prime-time show presented by Gregg Wallace and John Torode.
However, she was tight-lipped about her performance when we caught up with her earlier this week.
“I’m not allowed to say for obvious reasons but it was great fun, even though I was really nervous,” said Lorna.
“Food and cooking is what I’ve always loved,” said the 22-year-old, a former local newspaper reporter, who now lives in London and works for a foodie PR firm.
It was a bit of a whim which led her down the application process last summer.
“I saw they were looking for applicants and just thought I’d have a go and see what happened,” she said.
“I was on holiday in Portugal about three months later when they got back in touch. I had a couple of phone calls and then a face-to-face interview with the production team in Manchester, at which you had to take in something you had cooked, so it was quite a long process before I found out I’d been chosen.”
Hours and hours were spent practising in the kitchen prior to the big day.
“My housemate ate well in the weeks leading up to it,” laughed Lorna. “It cost me a fortune!”
However, there were anxious moments when she and her fellow contestants were given their first task – making their dish from ingredients in the market store.
“It wasn’t what we were expecting so that made us all anxious,” she admitted. “We’d thought we would be able to cook exactly what we’d been practising.
“Gregg and John were exactly as you see them on TV. Gregg was cracking jokes and helping to put us at ease which helped, while John would cast his eye over your work and give his advice.
“They’re also very strict about the timings,” added Lorna.
“We got one hour and 15 minutes to do the dish and that’s what you practise in the build-up to the programme.
“What you don’t realise is that they want to speak to you along the way and that cuts into your time. I think that’s why you see so many people struggling with their timings and getting into a panic.
“I think it probably helped that I find it very easy to talk about food!
“Food writing is what I’ve always wanted to do so hopefully this will help to open a few more doors.”
Masterchef is on BBC One tonight at 8pm