Peter Bayless : BBC Masterchef 2006
The Times Online
The Olive Trail
Wine Direct

Winning MasterChef was a truly cathartic moment for me. Suddenly my lifelong passion for food, its preparation and its cooking were allowed to come to the forefront of my existence, rather than remaining no more than a hobby or pastime. The win confirmed that I could change the way in which I earn a living and in doing so also change my way of life.

The programme took me on an incredible journey where I got to meet and work under some the world’s finest chefs. A journey during which I learnt that, above all else, there is a vast chasm between the enthusiastic amateur and the professional chef. At the age of sixty it is too late for me to start at the bottom. What I can do though is to write about my experiences, not only of appearing in a televised competition, but also of a lifetime’s enjoyment in the kitchen and to share with you my belief in the endless possibilities that food holds for enriching the quality of our lives.

Whisky-syruped kumquats with snow eggs and bitter chocolate

  • 400g kumquats
  • The juice of 3 oranges
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Blended Scotch whisky
  • 4 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100ml milk
  • 500ml water
  • Icing sugar
  • Good quality bitter chocolate
  • Finely pared rind of lime


Halve the kumquats and remove any pips. Place the orange juice and sugar into a saucepan together with a cup of water. Bring to the boil then reduce the temperature and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the kumquats and cook gently for about 45 minutes, until the peel is cooked through and tender to the bite. Stir in a generous measure of whisky and set aside to cool to room temperature before serving.

Whisk the egg whites to soft peak stage and add half the sugar. When fully incorporated, add the remaining sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture forms shiny firm peaks.Heat the milk and water in a large, wide-topped pan to just below a simmer. Shape the meringue mixture between two tablespoons and poach in the hot milk and water. Place a 50mm ring mould in the centre of a serving plate and spoon the whisky syruped kumquats inside. Top with a snow egg and lift off the ring mould. Spoon a little of the sweet orange sauce around the dish. Decorate the snow eggs with melted chocolate and a touch of lime zest.

Since the competition I have worked alongside the kitchen brigade at Le Gavroche where many of this country’s foremost celebrity chefs sharpened their knives and cut their teeth. The high point for me though was to work alongside Michel Roux JR at The Taste of London Festival in Regents Park where I got to meet many of my food heroes and to bask in a little of the reflected glory that surrounds the legendary Michel.

I am working hard on promoting my book with regular radio broadcasts, TV appearances and a punishing schedule of book signings up and down the country. I am also enjoying doing cookery demonstrations and holding masterclasses for groups of students of all ages. There is no doubt that this is where I want to be and I only wish that I taken this road much earlier in life. I have had some great feedback from people who have read my book and empathised with my passion for food and life. The response is so encouraging that I am already working on my next book.

^^ Back To Top ^^