Celebrity MasterChef viewers brand Amar Latif a ‘true inspiration’ and cry tears of joy as the blind presenter makes it through to the semi-finals
Before joining the show, he’d barely cooked a meal since losing his sight at the age of 18.
And, Celebrity MasterChef viewers branded Amar Latif, 45, a ‘true inspiration’ and cried tears of joy as the travel presenter made it through to the semi-finals.
The first blind contestant in the BBC show’s history was stunned as he was told he’d be taking part in the next round in the cooking competition with his new friend, Gethin Jones.
Amazing! Celebrity MasterChef viewers branded Amar Latif, 45, a ‘true inspiration’ and cried tears of joy as the travel presenter made it through to the semi-finals
It was a close call between Amar and Lady Leshurr over who make the semi-final, but the rapper’s lumpy mash and ‘scruffy duck’ left her crashing out of the competition.
The travel presenter had presented John Torode and Gregg Wallace with a colourful chicken curry and rice complete with his mother’s green mango apple chutney.
Unsurprisingly Gethin was the first to find out he’d made the semi-final, after wowing everyone with his steak and dauphinoise potatoes as well as Welsh cake for dessert.
Speaking of his involvement in Celebrity MasterChef, Amar, a Scottish entrepreneur who has explored the world despite losing his sight to the genetic eye condition retinitis pigmentosa, said: ‘As a blind person it feels like I am breaking new ground.
Novice! Before joining the BBC show, Amar had barely cooked a meal since losing his sight at the age of 18
Shock! The first blind contestant in the BBC show’s history was stunned as he was told by Gregg Wallace that he’d be taking part in the next round in the cooking competition
‘Two weeks ago I wasn’t able to cook any of this at all. Now I’m able to experiment and create my own touches.’
And viewers’ hearts were melted when it was revealed that Amar would be heading to the semi-final alongside Gethin.
‘I cried tears of joy when you got through to the Semi-finals. You are an inspiration Amar,’ tweeted one fan.
‘@AmarLatif_ watching you on @MasterChefUK makes me so emotional. You are such a delight to watch. #teamamar #herochef,’ added another viewer.
Someone else congratulated the star, tweeting: ‘Well done Amar. Absolutely deserved it. You are a true inspiration.’
Talented: Unsurprisingly Gethin Jones was the first to find out he’d made the semi-final, but the hearts of viewers were melted when it was revealed that Amar would be joining him
Amar previously admitted he believes his heightened sense of taste, touch, sound and smell gives him an advantage over his Celebrity MasterChef rivals.
‘I kept asking myself what I had signed up for,’ he says of his decision to compete in the series. ‘I hadn’t cooked much and the show execs wouldn’t even let me have any extra time, which I thought was a bit harsh,’ he joked.
It was the second time the BBC had approached Amar to take part in the competition – last year friends convinced him to reject an approach because they feared the challenge would be too great.
‘They came back this year and there was a bit of persistence on their part and they asked how they could support me, they asked me what I needed.
Fan reaction: Viewers’ hearts were melted when it was revealed that Amar would be heading to the semi-final alongside Gethin
‘They said I could have adapted equipment but no more time. Now I have realised that us blind chefs can be better than sighted ones.
‘I can’t wing it so I have to have everything ready and organised. I have got it timed and planned down to a T.’
His culinary skills are assisted by a few adapted accessories, including talking scales and special measuring spoons.
But Amar swiftly discovered that the biggest advantage he held over his sighted rivals, including former footballer John Barnes and TV presenter Gethin Jones, were his four other senses.
‘What I realised is that, when you’re cooking, you have lots of non-visual signals. You’ve got the smell and the sound, for example. If my fish is not happy and needs attention, it will make a spitting sound.
Bromance: Amar and Gethin have engaged audience with their bromance on MasterChef
‘And the onions, if they are well past brown they too will start making a noise, saying, ‘Come over here and help me.’ It starts with a sizzling sound when they are happy but when they start crackling loudly, you know you need to start moving them around.
‘And when you’re cooking a lamb chop, it’s about the feel. I will touch the food and feel the texture. When you’re making a chicken curry and the chicken is ready, you’ll pick up a piece in your hand, it kind of crumbles, it breaks apart easily and that’s how you know it’s OK.
‘You have to keep tasting stuff, I totally rely on that. I know if it is missing salt, pepper or butter. I wouldn’t say my other senses are stronger but I use them a lot. I realise that sighted people don’t use their other four so much.’
Making history: Amar is he first blind contestant to compete on the BBC series, and believes his heightened sense of taste, touch, sound and smell gives him an advantage over his rivals
Amar had just two weeks to properly prepare for MasterChef. But before that, he visited restaurants and asked friends to describe how plates of food looked so he could visualise them.
He went to celebrity haunt The Ivy in London’s West End and The Foundry in Leeds, while staff at a hotel in Gran Canaria took him through their à la carte menus.
Despite his preparation, he admitted to begging MasterChef hosts Gregg Wallace and John Torode to be kind about his presentation.
‘I said to them, ‘I want you to taste it before you take too much notice of what it looks like, so if you need to close your eyes, then please do’.
Amar feels his blindness can also be an advantage when he dines with friends. ‘We blind people can go into a restaurant and taste the food for what it is,’ he says.
Explorer: The Scottish entrepreneur has explored the world despite losing his sight aged 18 to the genetic eye condition retinitis pigmentosa (Pictured in Istanbul in 2020)
‘I think you guys get a bit ripped off, for you it’s all about how the food looks. I think that sighted people pay too much attention to that detail, so they don’t taste things properly.’
Amar, who was hospitalised in April with coronavirus after filming the show, has praised MasterChef for enabling him to develop the skills that helped him survive the health crisis.
‘Thanks to the show, I have become self-sufficient during the lockdown,’ he says.
‘It has enabled me to be so independent. And people needn’t worry about me cutting onions. I’ve got my time down to one minute.’
Celebrity MasterChef continues on BBC1 on Wednesday and is available on BBC iPlayer.
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