Tooting woman crowned Masterchef champion

Your Local Guardian: Former Tooting charity worker Shelina Permallo was crowned MasterChef champ last night Former Tooting charity worker Shelina Permallo was crowned MasterChef champ last night

A former Tooting charity worker woke up as a culinary celebrity this morning after being crowned as this year's Masterchef champion last night.

Shelina Permallo, 29, a British-born Mauritian originally from Southampton, is only the second woman to win the title in eight years.

She beat the other finalists, Tom Rennolds and Andrew Kojima, by wowing the judges with her three course, Mauritian inspired, meal in the BBC One final last night.

Her winning menu was an octopus starter, mutton curry and a dessert of mango cannelloni filled with lime curd.

The judges were effusive in their praise for her cooking and could not fault a single aspect of her final dishes, while her competitors both made mistakes - using strawberries in a starter, and white chocolate and oil in a desert.

Mrs Permallo said she is heavily influenced by Mauritian flavours, with memories of helping her mother when she was as young as three.

She said: "My mother taught me to cook by intuition - never by using scales - always by sight and taste, so I developed a strong palate from a young age.

"I am passionate about food from my heritage, Mauritian cuisine, and have a love for Thai and Italian food, my husband was born in Rome and we visit Italy often and I have been taught some fantastic dishes by his Nonna."

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