Former MasterChef contestant cooking for elderly neighbour during lockdown

Anthony O’Shaughnessy has been preparing meals daily.

Anthony O' Shaughnessy
Anthony O' Shaughnessy

A former MasterChef contestant has been treating an elderly neighbour in lockdown to gourmet meals every day.

Anthony O’Shaughnessy, 28, competed in the BBC cooking series in 2018 and made it as far as the semi-finals stage.

Now working at Leeds Cookery School, he has been staying with his mother in Newcastle for the lockdown period and has been treating his neighbour Peter, who is in his seventies, to delicious meals every day.

O’Shaughnessy told the PA news agency: “I’m on leave from work at the minute because of the whole situation and I decided to stay here during the lockdown.

“My mum has his (Peter’s) number and when they announced the lockdown we thought how is he going to out and do shopping? So my mum gave him a ring, she normally gives him a call every now and then to make sure he’s alright because he’s on his own.

“He said he’d ordered some shopping and they hadn’t delivered it, and kept delaying it, and I think it was cancelled twice so we were getting a bit concerned as he’s had health problems before, so he couldn’t leave the house”.

O’Shaughnessy and his mother plated up some food for Peter – and have continued cooking for him ever since.

He said Peter, who served in the Navy and asked that his surname not be shared, is a fan of the different cuisines and spicier dishes he has been given.

After sharing a photograph on social media of a broccoli parmesan farfalle that he’d cooked for Peter, the chef said he was overwhelmed by the reaction.

“It’s been really nice and he mentioned yesterday I made some broccoli with cheese and we’d rung him before hand to say if he wanted some and he said he really looked forward to our calls every day.

“I thought I’d share it on Twitter to set a good example because I just thought if we hadn’t called and checked on him we’d never have known he was in need, to be honest. I think a lot of that generation are quite proud and they don’t want to ask for help.

Anthony O’ Shaughnessy hopes he has inspired other people (Copyright: Anthony O’Shaughnessy)

“It’s nice to see other people’s comments on it as well, I didn’t expect it to go as far as it did. But people have been saying nice things as well, like they want to help their neighbours and stuff and it encouraged them to check on people around them and I think that’s nice, I hope that’s a good thing people took away from it”.

Talking about his MasterChef experience, he said: “It was good, I really enjoyed it but I think as the competition went on it wasn’t my kind of cooking.

“I’m not really sort of a fine dining sort of person; a lot of the stuff I make is quite homely food. I got far enough I think, probably as far as I could get, and then once it got to the whole professional restaurant thing I thought ‘Ooh got a bit out of my depth’.”

“It totally changed my life though, I used to work for the local ambulance service, I used to work here in Newcastle and then after MasterChef I started doing cookery demonstrations at food festivals and I really enjoyed that”.

He tried his hand as a chef for a few months in Leeds, but now works as a teacher at the cookery school.

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