A former Southern Reporter journalist is taking on her toughest challenge yet as a contestant on BBC cookery show Masterchef.
Lorna Robertson – who worked for the paper and its sister titles in 2015 – appeared on Wednesday night’s episode of the prime-time programme presented by Gregg Wallace and John Torode.
And she wowed the duo, as well as three former winners of the show, with her outstanding dishes, sailing through to tonight’s quarter final, which is on BBC1 at 8.30pm.
Firstly, she caught the eye of Gregg and John by making a faultless prawn linguine, which took her through to the next round, where she had to cook two courses for three former winners – Peter Bayless, James Nathan and Mat Follas.
And they were blown away by her venison carpaccio starter and roast grouse main.
John Torode said: “That is tricky. I know real chefs who can’t cook grouse.”
And Gregg was impressed by her palette, saying: “I thought her flavours were superb, I think she’s got something.”
She was first to be sent to the quarter-final, where she was joined by fellow contestants Fumbi and Nicola.
When Laura popped into our Berwick office this week, she was understandably tight-lipped about her performance.
“Food and cooking is what I’ve always loved,” said Lorna, 22, 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!”
“Food writing is what I’ve always wanted to do, so hopefully this will help to open a few more doors.”
Lorna’s TV appearance on Wednesday can still be viewed on the BBC iPlayer.
Tonight, she and the five other quarter-finalists face a test set by restaurant critic Jay Rayner.
The challenge is to make an exceptional dish, choosing from one of two briefs – either cook a savoury dish that showcases aubergine or a dessert with honey as the star.