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David Hall: Life after MasterChef

David Hall: Life after MasterChef

MasterChef is one of the many television shows chronically the competition between chefs.

Lisa Zanardo | Times Online

“Whoever wins, it’ll change their life. Cooking doesn’t get tougher than this.”

I love MasterChef.

I love the format, the food, failures, successes and over the top banter of the John Torode-Greg Wallace partnership.

I believe and admire the fact that the contestants genuinely throw in perfectly good-paying jobs to chase a dream and champion good food.

I also believe that MasterChef winners, trophy firmly in hand, either ride off into the sunset buoyed by a wave of offers from Michelin-star restaurants wanting them for their kitchens, or open their own successful restaurants that go on to earn their own Michelin stars.

Apparently, this is not how the story goes. Well, not always.

According to MasterChef semi-finalist David Hall, once the cameras stop rolling, it doesn’t take long before the phones stop ringing and the only one chasing you for an autograph is your best friend’s 85-year-old grandmother.

Having been on MasterChef twice, first in the 2006 series and again the following year when he was asked back as a finalist, David knows all too well how the story can end.

Originally trained as a teacher but later ending up in IT, David held down a steady but unfulfilling job in Leeds when he decided to act on a 20-year love affair with food by applying for a place on the show.

“I was always a fan of the original program, when Lloyd Grossman used to host it, so when I saw the new format I wanted to apply,” he said. “It was brilliant to make it down to the final cut but when you actually get pushed into that room and you’ve never cooked in front of cameras before, it’s very daunting.”

When he failed to make the finals first time around, David did what most MasterChef contestants do, he slipped back into his old IT job and routine life back in Leeds. Doubts in his ability to succeed in the world of food crept in, but unlike so many others gone before him, David was given a second chance. MasterChef invited him back to compete in the finals the following year.

Recognizing it as a turning point and a chance to pursue his lifelong dream, David decided to quit his job in order to focus all his attention on the show and what he believed would be a new-found career in food; with or without the accolade of a MasterChef title.

“The whole experience sucks you in and you have to be very compliant because there are intimidating people there ripping your food apart and asking you over and over ‘do you really want to to do this’.

“It’s a whirlwind of emotion but as quickly as it can suck you in it can spit you back out just as quick. Some people go on the program because they’re enticed by the cameras and think it will turn them into overnight celebrity chefs.