Masterchef finalist Marianne just misses out on 2009 crown
She made it through to the final of television's most gruelling culinary contest and garnered praise from some of the world's fiercest food critics.
But chef to the stars Marianne Lumb narrowly missed out on being crowned Professional Masterchef 2009 last night.
The 34-year-old, who credits her upbringing in Long Clawson, Melton, with nurturing her love of cooking, maintains she has still tasted success after proving herself to some of the world's greatest chefs.
Throughout this week, viewers of the BBC Two show have seen the freelance chef from Leicestershire go head-to-head with Steve Groves and Daniel Graham in a series of challenges that have included serving up historic dishes for the Royal College of Physicians and rustling up meals out of mystery ingredients.
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Last night, her culinary skills were praised by 30 of the world's leading chefs and inspectors at Brown's Hotel, in London's Mayfair, where the final three had been given the nerve-wracking task of preparing a three-course meal for them.
But Marianne fell at the final hurdle when she ran out of time in the television studio "cook-off," after which judges Gregg Wallace and chef Michel Roux Jr declared Steve Groves the series winner.
Marianne said she was not too disheartened and was "incredibly proud" to have become the first woman to make the final three of the show.
She said: "I was so close but, ultimately, so far. To win it would have been the ultimate but I do not see it as a disappointment that I didn't – we are all winners.
"I'm delighted with how the programme went. The feedback I received from the public, the chefs and the critics has been amazing."
The daughter of a butcher from Long Clawson, Marianne now lives in London and earns a living as a freelance chef, cooking up meals in the homes of rock stars, racing drivers and some of the world's leading business figures.
In the wake of her success in the show, she said she had been inundated with "exciting" job offers.
She is now set to spend some time working in the kitchen of Michel Roux Jr's Le Gavroche restaurant, in London.
The former pupil of King Edward VII Upper School, in Melton, is also planning to campaign for food studies to be reintroduced to the National Curriculum.
She said: "I went on to the show wanting to know how good I really was.
"I think I can walk away being incredibly proud of what I achieved.
"I now know that I'm able to cook in pretty much any situation. I don't think anything will ever stress me out again after the immense pressure you are put under in the show.
"Now I just want to carry on cooking exquisite food – and do my best to promote produce from Leicestershire, too."
Marianne's star turn on Masterchef: The Professionals has caused a stir in her home village of Long Clawson, where mum Anthea Brown said she has become "a local celebrity."
Mrs Brown, 54, said: "It's been really exciting and I'm very proud of the way she dealt with things so coolly.
"The whole family has been watching and we are so delighted and thrilled she managed to get to the final.
"From a very early age she was cooking meals and trying things out in the kitchen – she's a natural."