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Turriff mum reveals what happens behind the scenes of MasterChef

Muir Hunter says she struggled to watch herself on the hit BBC show.

Muir in her white apron cooking in the MasterChef kitchen.
Muir had also dreamed of featuring on MasterChef and hopes her efforts will inspire others to follow in her footsteps. Image: BBC/ Shine TV.

Muir Hunter has always loved cooking bringing a mix of flavours and colours together.

Born in Turriff and growing up in Banff, she was inspired to start cooking thanks to her aunt Una.

Decades on, the 53-year-old was selected to be among 58 hopefuls in the 20th season of MasterChef.

With nerves running high, Muir checked into a hotel hours before filming.

However, it wasn’t long before she found a group of like-minded people in the form of her fellow contestants; much to the surprise of the showrunners.

Muir’s insight on MasterChef

Speaking to The Press and Journal, Muir gave an insight into how the show is made and how it felt to achieve her lifelong dream.

She said: “We all stayed in the same hotel. We didn’t meet each other the night before but somehow, we all realised who we all were in the morning when the car came to pick us up.

“When the runner came in, she said, “You’ve found each other” because we had all just gravitated together.”

Turriff mum Muir Hunter on BBC show MasterChef.
Muir spoke about the ins and outs of the BBC show. Image: MasterChef.

The 53-year-old admits nerves were running high as filming got under way.

Looking back on the experience, Muir said the day was broken up by a mix of interviews and cooking.

She added: “There are a lot of interviews asking you different questions, talking about what inspired you, what kind of things you like doing and where you’re from.

“The actual filming in the studio is a couple hours and the rest is all different interviews around the studio.”

Distraction made way for Muir’s Scottish twist on Italian gnocchi

In last week’s opening episode, Muir, who works as a Children’s Mental Health Services manager, cooked up a storm to reach the second challenge of the day.

However, her charred tattie scone-inspired gnocchi failed to impress the judges, resulting in her early eviction from the show.

Tasked to rustle up their signature dish, Muir opted to pan-fry her gnocchi and serve it with a cream, kale, garlic, sage and white wine sauce.

Presenting her dish to the judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace, John said her sauce had evolved into a “hefty” cream cheese sauce.

Muir's burnt pan-fried gnocchi on top of a cream and white wine sauce.
Muir’s attempt at gnocchi failed to hit the mark with judges John and Gregg. Image: MasterChef.

Fellow judge Gregg added: “At heart, you know what works. You just don’t know when to stop.”

Muir said the Scottish-inspired twist came out of nowhere.

She said: “I have a really bad habit in my life of going off on tangents and that was one of them. The ingredients remind me of tattie scones and then once I started talking about it, it seemed like a good idea to go for it.

“You do get gnocchi that you pan fry but not the way I pan-fried it. I think if I hadn’t burnt it, it wouldn’t have been quite as bad, but I got distracted and when I saw it I thought, that doesn’t look so good.”

“They were quite right in what they said. I just didn’t have a solid enough plan, she admits.

“It is the same with a lot of my cooking. I start off with one thing and then just develop a theme and I really enjoy it.”

Turriff mum was ‘really nervous’ on MasterChef

Muir admits walking into the MasterChef kitchen for the first time was nerve-wracking.

She added: “The other contestants were really lovely. We had a nice day, I enjoyed it.”

Taking on board the comments Gregg and John made, Muir says it has changed her approach in the kitchen.

She said: “After the show, I didn’t cook for ages. I had just got a new job, so it was really busy.

“I think about things quite differently in terms of, planning a little bit more in what I want it to look like in the end rather than being pace-orientated, so it has changed me a little bit.”

Muir standing alongside her fellow contestants in front of the round M MasterChef sign.
Season 20 of the popular BBC cooking show returned this month, with Muir featuring in episode one. Image: BBC /Shine TV.

MasterChef returned to screens on Monday, April 1, with six contestants going head-to-head for one of four aprons up for grabs.

Muir admits watching herself on television wasn’t easy but says the response has been lovely; especially with her 13-year-old daughter.

“I watched last Monday with quite a few friends,” she said.

“It was such a difficult thing to watch because, from all the filming, you don’t know how they are going to edit it.

“There is so much reality TV where people just look terrible, and I think they did such a great job in the editing. I was really pleased with it.

“Everyone’s been really positive about it, and it’s just been lovely. My daughter is just delighted. I went home last night and she and five of her pals were watching it on one of their phones. It’s exciting for them.”

Muir hopes to inspire people to follow their dreams

Just moments after being voted off the show, Muir referred to getting a tattoo to commemorate the occasion.

She insists “I will be getting a tattoo” although, the jury is out on the final design.

Muir is now hoping to inspire prospective cooks to chase their dreams and “go for it.”

She said: “What a positive experience it has been.

“If anyone was thinking about going for it, I’d absolutely say go for it, it’s great.”