Now mother-of-two Shermayne Thomas is on a new culinary mission - whipping out the plates at a Wolverhampton college.
The 29-year-old is just a couple of months into her college cookery course but is hoping she will soon be able to carve a successful name for herself.
The Pendeford resident said: "I love it. I just needed to cover that before I could fully put my feet in to the cooking world.
"The past year has been surreal. One year ago I never would have thought it would have happened. It's been a rollercoaster. It's happened so fast but in a good way.
"My absolute dream would be to open my own restaurant. That would be the ultimate goal."
Miss Thomas appeared on the Channel 4 show last year, finishing just one point shy of first place with her Caribbean-inspired menu.
She treated fellow contestants to Saturday soup and saltfish fritters, mutton chops with rice, peas and homemade coleslaw, rounding it all off with a chocolate brownie and ice cream.
The life-changing experience left the mother thirsty for more and she is now deep into the City of Wolverhampton College's level 2 professional cooking course.
But Miss Thomas credits her tough upbringing, which saw her sleeping rough and pregnant at 16, for giving her the strength to pursue her dreams as she approaches her 30th birthday this month.
The former Aldersley High School student, who is mother to Amarah-Bleu, 4, and Tyler-Jane, 12, said: "I didn't get any GCSEs. I dropped out of college numerous times, dropped out of university, been in many dead end jobs, which were not fulfilling. I always quit.
"When I did Come Dine With Me, that's when I realised it's cooking that I really wanted to go into. It means everything.
"I'm grateful that I'm in this position. It was only six years ago when I was sleeping on a friend's settee thinking 'what's going on', and I had no money.
"It was horrible. It is an achievement to be here now."
The hopeful cook is preparing to launch business TheKitchshem next year, with plans of opening a Mayfair-style eatery in Wolverhampton.