Having made it to the final three, Spitzer has been as fascinating to watch throughout her time on MasterChef as the dishes she has created. Suzanne Baum speaks to the mother-of-four about her recipe for success 

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Too hot to handle Emma Spitzer

Despite the pressure of cooking under the spotlight on one of the world’s most popular cookery programmes, there has been no sweat and tears for Spitzer. If anything, Spitzer would have shed tears of happiness having out-cooked the competition to reach the MasterChef final that saw three finalists battling it out to win the competition.

“Before I started the show I had absolutely no expectation about how far I would come; other than my friends and family nobody had ever critiqued my food.  All I hoped was to not be the first one to leave,” said Spitzer. “It has been the toughest thing I ever done. It was like running an uphill marathon at times but I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.”

Watching 40-year-old Spitzer on Friday’s final – where the finalists were given three hours to prepare a three-course meal- I could understand why MasterChef uses it’s much quoted slogan Cooking doesn’t get any tougher than this. I doubt I could crack an egg under the watchful eyes of judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace so am happy to hear Spitzer deny being intimated by their steely gaze. In fact, she describes them as “a perfect duo.

“Cooking for John and Gregg is so terrifying yet, at the same time, really exhilarating.  Before going on MasterChef I’d always try to imagine what they would say about my food so to have had the chance to experience it first-hand has been incredible. They complement each other perfectly; John has an extraordinary amount of culinary knowledge and Gregg knows just about every bad joke there is out there. They are like an old married couple – in a good way.”

During the seven-week competition, which started off with 40 contestants, viewers have watched Spitzer cook a celebratory dinner in honour of Sir Winston Churchill, travel across Europe to Sweden where she cooked on open fires without gas and electricity and cook for some of the world’s finest Michelin-starred chefs.

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Cooking mama

Slightly daunting perhaps? “It’s been an amazing learning experience for me and I’ve enjoyed every part of it,” enthused Spitzer, who has found it “somewhat difficult” watching herself on the TV.

“I spent most of the earlier episodes cringing but I’ve got more used to it now. I’m not one to hide my feelings so it was tough watching myself going through all those extreme emotions so publicly.

“When Simon Wood won I was so happy for him as we have developed such a strong bond having been through so much together.”

Her passion for Middle Eastern cooking proved a winner for Spitzer who believes its very bold flavours made her recipes stand out.

“Middle Eastern food is perhaps not a style of cuisine a lot of people have tried but I loved the duck with black za’atar as it was taking a classic duck a l’orange and putting a middle eastern spin on it.”

Although her career is in the travel industry – Spitzer runs the luxury travel business Tots Too, recognised as one of the best family tour operators – it is no surprise to hear she now wants to delve into the cooking industry.

“I don’t believe being a runner-up has truly sunk in! I think I am going to start to appreciate the achievement when I look back now that the show has finished and the madness of it all has calmed down!”

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Emma with MasterChef judges Gregg Wallace (l) and John Torode (r)

So what’s next on Spitzer’s plate?

“I love the travel business and cooking so combining the two together would be the ideal for me whilst doing some pop-ups and catering on the side so that I can invite all those that want to try my food.”

She may have missed out on winning the coveted trophy but Spitzer is a true winner in every way. I can already see the queues forming ……..

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