SUCCESS tastes sweet for Bolton’s Debbie Halls-Evans who has been crowned the first UK winner of Channel 4 cookery show The Taste.
Viewers have been left on the edge of their seats watching the Horwich-born cook as she reached the highs of immunity before hitting the lows in the bottom three throughout the series as she battled to impress Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Anthony Bourdain with a spoonful of her best dishes.
The mum-of-four, who now lives in Blackrod, sailed through the immunity challenge impressing guest chef Pierre Koffmann with her champagne canapé as langoustine toast, before she faced the final task of making a three-course meal for the mentors turned judges.
Her starter of vanilla scallops and pea purée, main dish of rabbit and red wine, and dessert lavender apple and caramelised fig wowed all three judges, who gave her the number one spot ahead of contestants Dixie Innes and Kelly Sealey.
Mrs Halls-Evans said: “It seems so surreal that I can finally talk about it after such a long time.
“I was nearly in tears when Pierre Koffmann said he loved my dish. Just knowing that I would be cooking in the final was unbelievable. Then to win the final challenge — I was gobsmacked. I just remember Ludo grinning from ear to ear.
“It was really scary filming the final. We were cooking at one point and I went totally blank. My brain shut down for about 10 minutes and I remember thinking, ‘what am I doing here?’
"It got too much, but thankfully I snapped out of it.”
A self-confessed maverick cook, Debbie had praise from each mentor, including Anthony, who last week said she was “exciting” to watch.
But it was not a smooth ride for Debbie throughout the series — she found herself in the bottom three a few times with her off-the-wall, often daring creations.
She said: “I admit I did fall down a few times — but it’s not because I’m a bad cook, it’s because I was pushing myself so far. Thankfully, the mentors all saw that I had something in me.
“It was such intense filming over four weeks — we were in the kitchens from 6.30am until nine at night.
"It was hard to be away from my family — my kids and husband are my life. That added more intensity to the show because normal things weren’t near me.
“I believe that my family and my upbringing in Bolton are what have kept me grounded throughout the competition.
"I am hoping that my win and my position as food ambassador at Bolton FM will help raise the profile of the town as there are some amazing producers in our little community.”
- See Saturday’s Weekend for an exclusive recipe from Debbie