Northumberland’s Lorna Robertson and Faye Dodwell are proving themselves to be two of the best amateur cooks in the country.
The pair made it through to the last eight of BBC’s MasterChef on Monday night and faces another round in the gastronomic contest tonight (Wednesday, 8pm).
However, Lorna, 22, from Berwick, will have to improve if she is to make it through the semi-finals stage of the competition.
Presenters Gregg Wallace and John Torode were less than impressed with her rhubarb-based dish in Monday’s episode when she was challenged to showcase her favourite ingredient.
She made a dessert of set custard with rhubarb jelly, rhubarb gin and tonic gel, gin compressed rhubarb, a ginger and walnut crumble and a rhubarb and custard shard.
“When you get the balance of sharp and sweet absolutely right that sends me into raptures of joy,” said Gregg. “I find that in the gel but I don’t find it in the other bits of rhubarb.”
On a more positive note, John added: “I really love the promise of this dessert. I don’t think it’s quite there but I’m really blown away that someone like you is actually inventing stuff like this set little custard. As a rhubarb lover, I want more rhubarb and more juice.”
Lorna said: “That was the best I could do and you can’t ask for any more than that. If it wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t good enough.”
However, she was saved by the judges and went on to take part in last night’s episode where the contestants headed to the BBC studios in Elstree and were tasked to cater for the cast and crew of the drama Holby City.
Split into two teams, the competitors had to create two main courses and a dessert in less than four hours. then cook again in a special invention test.
“The final eight,” marvelled Lorna. “It just keeps getting more and more surreal.
“When I started off it was just a bit of fun but now it has completely taken over my life.”
Faye, 44, from Hexham, fared better with her medley of pork – pork loin, braised belly, black pudding bonbon and Scotch egg.
After tasting it, judge John said: “Your cooking is sound as a pound.”
Gregg said: “It is easy to see that you love to cook pork because this is absolutely delicious.”
Faye was delighted with the reaction. She said: “That couldn’t have gone any better for me. I’m really, really pleased.”
If you missed Monday’s episode, you can catch up with it on iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08pq9hd/masterchef-se ries-13-episode-18