Amazing Thai is MasterChef champ 2023
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Amazing Thai is MasterChef champ 2023

Chiang Mai native's dream comes true

The dessert of strawberries and cream. A screen capture of the MasterChef 2023
The dessert of strawberries and cream. A screen capture of the MasterChef 2023

Chariya Khattiyot, 40, was crowned MasterChef 2023 champion in the United Kingdom last Thursday for her dazzling dishes of northern-style Thai food.

She is the first Thai cook to earn the title in the show's 19 seasons. She beat 44 other contestants over the eight-week BBC One contest.

"I've loved watching MasterChef for many years and decided to enter the competition so I could showcase northern Thai cuisine," she said.

"I am passionate about bringing northern Thai cuisine to the UK while making use of local ingredients. Thai food is not just tom yam and pad Thai. It has so many flavours, layers and textures and is phenomenal. In many ways, my dishes are a fusion between Southeast Asian and Western food," she said.

Born in Chiang Mai, Ms Chariya lives in Basingstoke, Hampshire with her fiancé Adam, whom she met in Japan whilst studying there in her early twenties.

After moving to the UK, Ms Chariya spent seven years as a district manager for a national coffee shop chain before setting up her own coffee roasting company in 2016 and becoming a master coffee roaster.

She loves cooking because of her late grandfather, who raised her alone and taught her how to make the most out of what they had and get the best flavours from food.

They grew their own vegetables and cooked on a fire outside to create simple but tasty meals. During her childhood, Ms Chariya also loved to play restaurant and remembers fondly that her grandad was always her best customer.

Her winning menu in the contest on June 1 started with a Thai lotus tuille filled with coconut jelly, fried king prawns, and pomelo fruit salad flavoured with honey, palm sugar and coconut.

Chariya Khattiyot is the latest MasterChef Champion 2023 in the UK. Chariya's Instagram

Her main course was a traditional northern Thai "khantoke" platter of Wagyu sirloin steak in hang le sauce, minced lamb in a spicy tomato and shrimp paste, jackfruit and scallop salad served with sticky rice and scallop crisp crackers.

The final dish was 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.

MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace said Ms Chariya was outstanding and told her: "Since the first time you walked into this kitchen, it's been dish upon dish of exciting, beautiful food. What I really admire about you is just how hard you work in pursuit of perfection -- to really uncover new techniques, to find bigger and bigger flavour. Do you know who else has those qualities? Top professional chefs. You are the real deal. You're an amazing cook."

The other MasterChef judge, John Torode, said Ms Chariya is a proper master.

"Chariya's food has always been honest and from the heart. It's always exciting, it's always unusual and it's always been beautiful and addictive... A proper master," he said.

Ms Chariya dedicated her success to her late grandfather.

"I'm so happy. This just proves that if you dream something and you work really hard and you never give up, you can get it. That's what my grandad said to me -- never give up. He would be so proud of me," she said.

She also dreams of opening a restaurant where she can showcase her northern Thai food in the UK.

"From a little girl who cooked in a kitchen with no walls, to lift that trophy is going to be a story I can tell to inspire girls who have a hard life. If you work hard, I'm sure you can achieve something," she said.

The 'khantoke' style main course served with Wagu steak in 'hang le' sauce. A screen capture of the MasterChef 2023

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