Chariya Khattiyot, a 40-year-old former master coffee roaster, has achieved a remarkable transformation from her coffee expertise to claim the coveted title of MasterChef Champion on BBC One’s esteemed cooking competition. Triumphing over 44 other ambitious contestants, Chariya emerged victorious after eight thrilling weeks of culinary challenges on MasterChef, culminating in a nerve-wracking cook-off against the exceptional finalists Anurag Aggarwal (41) and Omar Foster (31).

The judges, John Torode and Gregg Wallace, presented Chariya with the revered MasterChef trophy, leading to an emotional reaction from her: “This is beyond belief. It means the world, the sun, the moon, and everything to me. I don’t think anything can surpass this. I’m overjoyed! This just proves that if you dream and work relentlessly without giving up, you can achieve it. That’s what my grandfather always told me—never give up. He would be immensely proud of me!”

Both judges were moved to tears as they announced Chariya as the Champion. MasterChef judge John Torode commended Chariya’s food, describing it as honest, heartfelt, exciting, unusual, beautiful, addictive, and showcasing not only the bold Thai flavours she presented initially but also her exceptional, innovative, and exciting techniques throughout the competition. He regarded her as a true master of her craft. Gregg Wallace, another MasterChef judge, praised Chariya as an outstanding contestant, noting that she delighted and amazed him in equal measure. Her creations exhibited incredible beauty and a touch of artistry. He regarded her as one of the most creative and skillful cooks to grace the MasterChef stage in a long time.

Before the final cook-off, Chariya shared her story, expressing her desire to inspire girls facing adversity by sharing her own journey from a young girl cooking in a kitchen with no walls to lifting the MasterChef trophy. She believed that hard work could lead to remarkable achievements, and she hoped her success would serve as a beacon of inspiration.

During the intense final week, viewers witnessed Chariya’s culinary adventures in Istanbul, Turkey. She experienced centuries-old cuisine, cooking traditional dishes for discerning locals in a historic village. She received mentorship from Refika Birgül, one of Turkey’s renowned chefs. Chariya also faced challenges at two Michelin-starred establishments, including a task to recreate a celebrated dish from the tasting menu of chef Fatih Tutak at the exclusive Istanbul restaurant Turk. Her journey concluded with a high-pressure challenge at Pera House, the residence of the British Consulate General in Istanbul. There, Chariya meticulously created a dessert—chicken breast pudding, a Turkish delicacy—which delighted her lunch guests, including British Consul General Kenan Poleo, Fatih Tutak, Refika Birgül, and the three judges of MasterChef Turkey. Additionally, Chariya faced the extraordinary Chef’s Table challenge at Core, a three Michelin-starred restaurant run by renowned chef Clare Smyth MBE. Her culinary prowess earned her high praise from leading chefs in attendance.

In the intense finale, the Final Three contestants faced the most pressure-filled challenge of the competition: creating the best three-course meal of their lives to impress judges John and Gregg and secure the MasterChef title. Chariya’s winning menu showcased her culinary expertise and creativity. She began with a Thai Lotus Tuille filled with Coconut Jelly, Fried King Prawns, Pomelo Fruit Salad, and flavoured with Honey, Palm Sugar, and Coconut. Gregg praised the dish, describing it as fabulous and a delicate morsel with a powerful impact.

For the main course, Chariya presented a traditional Northern Thai “Khantoke” Sharing Platter, featuring Wagyu Sirloin Steak in Hung Lay Curry Sauce, Minced Lamb in a Spicy Tomato and Shrimp Paste, Jackfruit and Scallop Salad, Sticky Rice, and Scallop Crisp Crackers.

John expressed his desire to eat the dish all day long. Chariya concluded her menu with her unique take on Strawberries and Cream—a Strawberry Jelly and Vanilla Cremeux Ring filled with Macerated Strawberries in Strawberry Liqueur, Pistachio Sponge, Strawberry Shards, and a Strawberry and Thai Basil Sauce. This dessert was a tribute to her childhood in Thailand, where she eagerly awaited the annual opportunity to enjoy strawberries with her grandad.

After tasting Chariya’s dishes, Gregg commended her consistent ability to create exciting and beautiful food since the beginning of the competition. He admired her relentless pursuit of perfection, exploration of new techniques, and her quest for bold flavours, qualities reminiscent of top professional chefs. Gregg referred to Chariya as the real deal—a remarkable and talented cook.

Originally from Thailand, Chariya currently resides in Basingstoke (Farnborough during filming) with her fiancé Adam, whom she met while studying in Japan. Prior to her MasterChef journey, Chariya spent seven years as a district manager for a national coffee shop chain before venturing into her own coffee roasting business and becoming a Master Coffee Roaster.

Chariya’s passion for cooking stems from her upbringing in Northern Thailand, where her grandad taught her to maximise the potential of ingredients and extract the best flavours, even with limited resources. They cultivated their own vegetables and cooked simple but delicious meals over an open fire. Chariya often played restaurant during her childhood, and her grandad was always her loyal customer.

Regarding her cooking style, Chariya emphasises her dedication to bringing Northern Thai cuisine to the UK while incorporating local ingredients. She believes that Thai food encompasses a multitude of flavours, layers, and textures, extending beyond the popular dishes like Tom Yam and Pad Thai. Chariya’s culinary creations can be seen as a fusion of Southeast Asian and Western influences. She spends countless hours in the kitchen perfecting her recipes while maintaining a sense of fun and creativity.

Reflecting on her MasterChef experience, Chariya expressed her love for the show, which she had watched for many years. Her decision to participate was driven by a desire to showcase Northern Thai cuisine. Although initially nervous about cooking for John and Gregg, their support and encouragement motivated her to become the best she could be. Chariya’s competitive nature played a significant role in her mindset throughout the competition.

Looking ahead, Chariya aspires to pursue opportunities in the culinary field and gain further experience to turn her passion for cooking into a profession. Her long-term dream is to open a restaurant, and eventually, multiple restaurants, where she can showcase the food of her homeland in Northern Thailand. She also aims to work towards earning a coveted Michelin star.

Chariya’s ultimate joy lies in witnessing people’s faces light up when they taste her food, and she eagerly awaits the chance to introduce the world to the incredible flavours of Northern Thai cuisine.