Sussex’s MasterChef contestant: ‘My heart just dropped’

I don’t think I was the only one who shouted at the TV ‘you’ve forgotten your cauliflower’ as I watched MasterChef last night. And surely I was not the only one who cried ‘nooooo’ when his pudding collapsed or the one who punched the air with glee when he made it through to the final three.

The fact Kenny Tutt is a very down-to-earth, friendly guy – yes, when you chat to him he is as friendly as he appears on the show – makes it even better. The Sussex dad-of-two has grown quite a fan-base on Instagram since the show started and on the whole the reaction to his cooking has been positive.

MasterChef finalist Kenny Tutt. Watch the final tonight (Friday) on BBC One at 8.30pm

MasterChef finalist Kenny Tutt. Watch the final tonight (Friday) on BBC One at 8.30pm

However, it certainly has not been an easy series, with the standard appearing to be much higher than previous years, something Kenny acknowledges.

“This year is phenomenal,” he says. “This year, the judges are quite taken aback by the standard.”

Last night saw the four contestants - Kenny, Alex, David and Nawamin - cook recipes created by internationally renowned chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, working alongside him and his head chef from Dinner.

For Kenny this challenge was extra special as he has always regarded Ashley – and his mentor Heston Blumenthal – as his inspiration.

“Some people look-up to pop stars, artists, film stars, football players, but the chefs are my version of David Beckham. People like Ashley Palmer-Watts or Heston or Nathan Outlaw are the sorts of people I have read about and know about their work.”

And he says of Ashley’s cooking: “The sort of cooking is changing the make-up of the food, but still keeping the heart of the food – it is really amazing.”

Kenny’s wife Lucy even took him to Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck for his 30th birthday treat.

“I had a mini breakdown when she told me where we were going,” the 36-year-old reveals. “It was just so fantastic. It was absolutely bonkers.”

The recipes created by Heston and Ashley are complicated and the contestants were certainly put through their paces during the five hours of cooking.

So when did Kenny realise he had forgotten to plate the cauliflower?

“Literally not until I went back and they had finally put it out,” he says. “It was on the side and my heart just dropped. I knew it was perfectly cooked.

“But that dish had 120 stages and Ashley said the hardest part was the consommé and getting that right.”

The next dish he created was a labour intensive rhubarb and custard pudding.

“It was so close to perfection,” Kenny says, admitting that perhaps if he had followed John Torode’s advice and had done one less element his pudding may have set in time.

“I really went for it,” he says, “but I thought I had blown it. I thought this was my swan song.”

He has described getting into the final three as ‘mind-blowing’ and ‘crazy’.

So how have his colleagues at Santander in Worthing reacted?

“They ask me about it, and how did that go and what happened there,” he says. “The thing is I’m the manager so I have to sit down and have conversations about work, but they want to talk about MasterChef. They have been really supportive.”

And his customers?

“Lots of customers are doing double takes and I had a selfie with a dog, a Labrador puppy,” he laughs.

“People are getting a bit star struck. I do not see myself as a celebrity, but I suppose I could be a local one.”

So does he think about whether his future will involve cooking?

When I asked him this question a few days he made sure he played his cards very close to his chest to not give anything away.

“It makes the future a bit more different if you like,” he admitted, before adding, “I have got a stable job, I am a family guy, I have a mortgage to pay, kids to feed, nursery costs...you have got to balance it up. Real life interferes, but it makes you think.

“A lot of people have been asking me for recipes. Cooking is something I love and I want to continue in some shape or form,” he said.

Today, I asked him the same question....and once again he was careful not to give anything away.

“It is really difficult to say. I am going to sit back and take it in and see what happens. If someone says this is a good opportunity I will need to consider it .....but I love what I do.”

So could a fine dining restaurant in his home town be on the cards?

“Worthing is getting more vibrant. It is a great place to retire, but it is more than that. It is getting itself together.

“Opening a restaurant can be quite tricky and it is a bit of a risk. Is Worthing able to take a high end place or would a place that is a bit more accessible for everyone and the sort of place I like to go be better...we will have to see what happens.”

I am sure I am not the only one who will be waiting with bated breath as I watch the final tonight on BBC One at 8.30pm.

All I can say is that we wish him the best of luck. He has already done Worthing and Sussex proud – and if he can help put the town on the culinary map then that will be an even bigger bonus...!

Read an interview with all three finalists, click here.

To find out more about Kenny, click here.

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