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'MasterChef 2008' winner crowned

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James Nathan has won BBC Two cookery contest MasterChef 2008.

The 34-year-old beat Jonny Stevenson and teenager Emily Ludolf in the final after eight weeks of challenges.

Nathan, who gave up his career as a criminal barrister to become a chef, hopes to land a job in a top kitchen and ultimately open his own restaurant.

He impressed judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace with his final meal of a mozzarella ravioli with tomato sauce and basil cream, followed by picked red cabbage and venison infused with lapsang souchong tea and served with roast potatoes. He also whipped up a chocolate and orange pudding for dessert.

He said: "Winning MasterChef has completely changed the shape of my life. It was probably the most nerve-wracking but exhilarating experience that I have ever had or am ever likely to have."

Wallace said: "James is the most driven, focused and talented amateur cook it has been my pleasure to observe. When you're watching [him] cook, it's easy to forget that this man is not a professional."

Nathan is married with a two-year-old daughter. He was brought up in Bristol but now lives in Spain.

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