Two among 12 set to do battle in kitchen

A SALES assistant and a plasterer, both from Yorkshire, are among those who have made it through to the MasterChef final 12.

The contestants have been whittled down from 24, and will face each other for the first time on next Tuesday’s BBC1 show.

Among them is Iranian-born Afsaneh Kaviani, 50, from Leeds, a widowed sales assistant with three sons.

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“I was recently made redundant from my role as a finance officer but it meant that I could finally pursue what I really want to do – cooking.”

Now working as a sales assistant at Marks & Spencer, she said: “I also lost my husband in September 2009 to cancer. During the many difficult times in my life, my kitchen has been my sanctuary.”

The show will also feature Tom Rennolds, 26, a plasterer, who lives with his mother in Silsden; Jay Tinker, 40, from Southport, a security director, Ashvy Dale, 34, a doctor at an A&E centre; Andrew Kojima, 32, a research analyst from London; and Aki Matsushima, 25, a PhD student in quantum physics from London.

Emma Russell, 30, from London, who was a contestant on Junior MasterChef when she was 14, is also through.

Now a charity programme manager, she said: “Desserts are my strong point and I bake every week.”

The other finalists are account director Jonathan Dale, 34, from London; Matthew Frost, 30, a mechanical engineer from Norfolk; Shelina Permalloo, 29, a former diversity manager from London; Charlie Wethered, 23, an advertising intern from London, and Eamonn Hunt, 47, specialist joiner, from Lincolnshire.