Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Masterchef winner reveals she wanted to share prize with other finalists

© PA. Post Thumbnail

MasterChef winner Irini Tzortzoglou said she immediately asked to share her prize with her fellow finalists after she was named champion of the latest series of the cooking competition.

The retired banker, 61, saw off challengers Jilly McCord, 42, and Delia Maria Asser, 28, in the first all-female final in the show’s history.

She was named the winner after impressing judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode with a menu inspired by her childhood and Greek heritage, including red mullet with a squid risotto, griddled rosemary lamb chops and a fig and hazelnut baklava.

She told the Press Association: “I’m floating somewhere in space, in mid-air.

“It happened so quickly that I felt all the final that the three of us were like one.

“We were all doing our own thing but actually we were in unison so my instinctive reaction was: ‘Can I share it? Can I share it with my friends?’

“Because it felt like we all had won and then it sunk in because the girls left the room and I was like ‘oh my god, it’s me, I’ve actually done it’.

“A normal person, an average person, does not suddenly win a major competition watched by millions, it just doesn’t happen and it happened to me and it was very, very difficult to sink in.”

Tzortzoglou, who grew up in Crete in Greece and now lives in Cartmel, Cumbria, said she was particularly pleased to have taken part in the first final to be made up of only female contestants.

“I’m excited about my grandchildren and the young generations who are growing up seeing a shift in our perception as to who can do what and understanding that women can be equally good as men in all things,” she said.

“We are just lucky we are three women who love and respect each other and have grown to be very fond and appreciative of each other’s talents.”

Tzortzoglou said there was only one moment, midway through the competition, when she thought she might be able to clinch the title.

She said: “There was once after a meal where I said ‘my brain is saying this is impossible, it’s an impossible dream but something in the pit of my stomach says that maybe I could do’ and it was a very quiet, very deep kind of spiritual feeling of ‘yeah, I think I could win it’ and I was in wonderment of that feeling.”

Tzortzoglou said it did not cross her mind during the final because she was too busy, adding: “I felt that I wasn’t cooking and I felt like that during the duration of the competition, that it wasn’t me doing that, almost like I was a puppet and people were pulling strings, it was really strange.

“Since then I have understood this is what happens when you’re in one of your gifts and I think cooking and hospitality are very much my gifts, so it felt like I had a lot of help from above.”

Discussing what she will do next, she said: “I started writing down things as I was preparing for the competition and writing was a fantastic process, I realised that so much that links me to food was coming back in my memory and a very lovely warm feeling.

“I started writing almost like a journal and then I was remembering recipes and how people I loved made different things and I want to continue that.

“I don’t think that at my time of life I want to run a restaurant, I want to spend more time with my mum and I would love to go round Greece and do some research, maybe make a programme if I’m lucky.

“This is my dream scenario, to visit the different Greek areas where the land is different, the climate is different, the people and food are different, and be able to showcase more of that, that would be amazing.”