DURING trips to the supermarket, Andrew Kojima is stopped by shoppers who want his advice.
What does he make of their ingredients, would it suit a particular dish and if he was making it, how would he do it?
Such is the attention that appearing on the BBC cooking competition has brought to the Burnthwaite Road resident, who last Thursday narrowly missed out on winning the Masterchef crown.
This time last year, the father-of-one was only thinking about putting himself forward for the show but now he is being asked to cook in restaurants and at private functions.
“It’s very flattering to be asked,” said the 33-year-old, “but we’re not chefs, we don't have all the other skills that they build up through years of working in kitchens, logistical stuff like dealing with suppliers.
“You can be quite a natural cook but I haven’t fully developed that instinct to know when things work or don’t, or how to deal with things in the kitchen.
“At the moment I’m trying to get as much experience as possible by working in kitchens, both in Britain and Europe, so that I can fully hone my skills.”
On the show, Andrew garnered high praise from a host of acclaimed chefs such as Michel Roux Jr and Tom Kitchin as well as judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace, for his technical ability and often ‘genius’ dishes, such as a black olive and chocolate tart with rosemary ice cream – which has become his signature.
However as an experimental cook, his dishes did not always please the palates of the judges, with his pork belly, lobster and strawberry salad coming under fire from the testy duo in the final.
“There’s no point asking what if,” he said, “I tested the menu and there are lots of people that like pork belly and strawberry – but John and Gregg don’t.
“I like experimenting with food and I didn’t put anything out if I didn’t think it would work.
“However it was absolutely incredible to get really good compliments from them as it would be such a confidence booster.”
Having enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence in recent years, Masterchef sits comfortably in the primetime slot on Wednesday evening attracting roughly 5m viewers.
Filmed over four months, the final – which was shown over three nights last week – was wrapped in December, which meant Andrew had to remain tight lipped when people approached him to find out who the winner was.
Without giving anything away, each week he would invite friends round and cook the dishes that he would serve in that episode, providing them with an interactive experience.
During the course of the series the contestants were expected to impress in a number of different challenges, which included preparing a banquet for hundreds of lawyers, cooking for Michelin starred chefs and even catering for royalty.
With just four contestants left in the competition, they were flown out to Thailand where they had to cook for Prince Rajani, one of the longest living royals in the country’s history, and create an authentic Thai meal using local produce and ingredients.
This proved to be an unforgettable experience.
The former research analyst, said: “It was just wonderful. I had been to Thailand before on business, but I never really got to explore the country and I had been desperate to get back.
“To go with four people who you’ve already shared a huge experience with and to be immersed in the culture was just such an experience.
“It’s fair to say that we were all petrified when we were cooking for the Prince.
“We knew it was a special dinner because we were told to cook just 12 plates and we had been given a brief that it had to be amazing but at that stage we didn’t know who it was for. That memory will stick with me for a long time.”
Andrew will spend the next few months refining his talents while continuing to pursue his dreams of becoming a chef.