Masterchef winner not planning restaurant

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Media captionThe Masterchef 2019 winner on her show highlights.

Retired banker Irini Tzortzoglou has won this year’s MasterChef – and quickly said she has no plans to start a new career running a restaurant.

The 61-year-old triumphed in the BBC One show’s first all-female final.

For the final three-course challenge, she cooked red mullet with a squid risotto, griddled rosemary lamb chops and a fig and hazelnut baklava.

Irini, who took inspiration from her Greek childhood, grew up in Crete and now lives in Cartmel, Cumbria.

She was one of 56 amateur chefs who competed for the coveted MasterChef trophy in the show’s 15th series.

Over the course of several gruelling rounds of cooking challenges, they were whittled down to the final three.

Irini was particularly pleased to have been in the show’s first all-female final and said she wished she could have shared her trophy with her fellow finalists Jilly McCord and Delia Maria Asser.

Image caption Irini beat off competition from Delia Maria Asser (far left) and Jilly McCord

She said: “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?‘”

Irini continued: “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.”

Image caption Irini Tzortzoglou said she wouldn’t follow past winners in opening a restaurant

Irini said being filmed throughout the series did not bother her because she remained “totally focused”.

In an interview on BBC Breakfast, she said: “The cameras didn’t disturb me because you really need to ignore them if you want to cook.

“And the guys are fantastic, Gregg [Wallace] comes and relaxes you – he used to joke with me about Greek history, challenge me, laugh with me – and then John [Torode] is like a younger brother who cares for you, he wants you to do as well as you want to.

“They didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I loved being around them.”

Past winners of the show, such as 2005 champion Thomasina Miers and 2011’s Shelina Permalloo, have gone on to own their own restaurants.

But despite impressing some of the biggest names in the food industry throughout the competition, Irini’s future plans do not involve opening her own professional kitchen.

“I don’t think that at my time of life I want to run a restaurant,” she said.

“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.”

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