YouTube star, author, and broadcaster Riyadh Khalaf was crowned the winner of Celebrity MasterChef UK after an emotional semi-final episode where he opened up about his coming out journey.
Over the course of five weeks, 29 year-old Khalaf competed his way to the top three against 19 other celebrities. During Celebrity MasterChef UK’s finale, his impressive culinary skills and personal flair for colour delivered him a big win.
Speaking about his final three-course meal on the show, he said, “This food is bright, punchy and it’s so so me. There’s no way I could’ve cooked that at the start of the competition. I’m very happy with how it turned out.”
Celebrity Master Chef co-judge Gregg Wallace said, “Riyadh has always been flamboyant, he’s always shown creativity and he’s always been passionate. I think Riyadh’s cooking came of age today.”
Fellow TV judge, John Torode, further stated,“You look at those three dishes and I thought they were restaurant quality. Some people just get better, their food finer but more importantly more and more delicious. A deserved winner.”
I BLOODY WON!! 😭😭😭😭 Thank you @JohnTorode1 & @GreggAWallace for your endless encouragement and contagious passion for food. @SamanthaQuek & @matthewcpinsent, it was an honour to cook alongside you both. Superstars! ❤️❤️🍽 @MasterChefUK #CelebrityMasterChef pic.twitter.com/XDbmDjlrzd
— Riyadh Khalaf (@RiyadhK) July 30, 2020
Khalaf earned his spot among the top three after an emotionally driven semi-finale, where he cooked a Middle Eastern-themed dish, in honour of his father. In the episode, the author described the meaning behind this meal and how his dad initially struggled to accept him after he came out.
In 2019, Khalaf spoke to Lorraine Kelly on her talk show about the difficult journey his family took after realising he was gay. Opening up about his father, he said, “When he found out it was difficult because his vision of his son, in a split second, had been completely changed. He took about a week to fully start talking to me and a year to actually start loving me again, but we’re so in love now as a family.”
Khalaf’s father, Sam, also shared in an interview with The Guardian newspaper that the extended family had urged him to have his son treated. Sam described, “They asked, ‘How come your son is like this? You should change him.’ They said we could help Riyadh: bring him to Syria and treat him there with conversion therapy.”
After winning the coveted title, Celebrity MasterChef UK fans expressed heartfelt congratulations for Khalaf. One person shared on Twitter, “This guy is a true inspiration and so personable. Can’t wait for him to release a cookbook. Amazing food and rightly deserved.”
BBC presenter Donna Traynor tweeted, “@RiyadhK well deserved win. Makes me want to try new recipes.”
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