She went from living on a diet of mashed potato and cheese in her early twenties to cooking extravagant dishes for Masterchef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
Now, Liz Cottam, who reached the semi-final of this year’s BBC One competition, is sharing her cuisine with her hometown communities for the first time.
The 40-year-old marketing and business consultant will be hosting a series of pop-up restaurants, master classes and dinner parties across Gildersome and Leeds.
And she hopes to build on what she learnt through her Masterchef experience.
Mrs Cottam, who lives in Gildersome’s historic Turton Hall, said: “John and Gregg were absolutely ace. Their knowledge and opinions carry so much weight.
“Gregg is a joker - he will come around and have a laugh with you, nick a bit of your food and put you at ease.
“John will give you really good tips about how you are doing and what to do. He really gives you focus.”
Mrs Cottam was offered a place on the show two years ago but “panicked” and turned it down. She decided to reapply this year to “cheer up” her mother, who had fallen ill.
She said: “Mum was really excited the first time I was offered a spot and encouraged me to go for it. When she got ill, I decided to apply again.
“The night I applied, she sadly died and never got to know I would be appearing on the show or see what I did.
“Every time I did well I felt sad I couldn’t tell her about it.”
Mrs Cottam said she was left “embarrassed” and “disappointed” after making mistakes in a dish she served to her “idol” chef Marcus Wareing.
But she received high praise from the judges throughout the series, with several of her dishes described as “outstanding”.
And she was just a step away from reaching the final.
She said: “From day one I said I wanted to win. Getting as far as the semi-finals was good but I was gutted to go out.”
Mrs Cottam will hold a masterclass in Leeds on May 26 as part of the Indie Food Festival, followed by a pop-up restaurant at The Mill Kitchen in Farsley on June 4 and a Sunday lunch at her home on June 12. For more go to www.forpeoplewholove.co.uk