Reality Bites caught up with Phil this morning to get the lowdown on his Celebrity MasterChef experience.
How did it feel on Saturday night when the nation discovered that you had won?
"It's really, really nice to be able to talk about it properly. I've had to keep it under wraps for so long, it's good to get it out in the open, chat to people and enjoy the moment."
Has it been hard to not tell anyone the result?
"Constantly. People walking around doing their shopping. It's such a well received programme. People enjoy watching it and it's been hard to keep silent. But it would be a shame to spoil it and I've enjoyed watching it back as well. I've watched it as a fan as well. It's been interesting to see it all as a viewer after being involved."
Has it been fun watching the whole series back as a viewer?
"The nice thing is that you get to hear all the things that were said behind the scenes. You don't get to hear what the critics and John and Gregg say a lot of the time, so it was fascinating to hear what people really thought of my dishes. That was really nice."
Were you confident that you could do well when you entered the show?
"I didn't think I'd ever get past the first knock-out. I thought that would be enough for me, but the MasterChef bug then got hold of me. You really get into it and suddenly you are on a roll and there's a really quick learning curve. It was such a fantastic time, it really was."
What was your inspiration to take part?
"I've always cooked at home, but I think it was because I retired a bit earlier than I expected last year. This show was offered to me and I thought, 'why not?' It's something that interests me and I thought, 'I wanna give it a go'. The whole thing just grew, grew and grew and to be a champion is beyond my wildest dreams."
Have you got lots of mates requesting dinner parties?
"I'm sure I will. But at the moment, I'm getting lots of requests of the dishes for my wife. There's lots of things she hasn't had yet and I've got to be a little bit careful. I think she's expecting MasterChef standard every night and I think she may be a little bit disappointed."
What were John & Gregg like to work alongside?
"I did get on with them well. What I loved about John and Gregg was their passion. They really love what they do and really care. Everyone who works on that show really cares about it and that helps you buy into it. As harsh as John and Gregg can be and even though they are not afraid to speak their mind, they always want you to improve. To cook for those guys every day was very, very special."
They described you as a "big softy". Have they ruined your image?
"I get quite emotional, but that's not a bad thing and I'm not worried about that at all. I gave my best and all to the programme, so you did see my softer side. But to win at the end made it all feel very worthwhile."
Most celebrity winners have gone on to careers in the food industry. Will you be doing the same?
"I've got lots of ideas, but the important thing for me at the moment is to enjoy this celebration. I want to enjoy being the winner over the next couple of weeks. It's been an inspiring journey and I want it to continue."
Who's the best rugby cook - you or Matt Dawson?
"I think when Matt won it, they weren't really cooking were they? It's a lot harder today than it was back all those years ago [laughs]."
What was your personal highlight from the series?
"The best experience was working with Michael Caines. Being in that kitchen with all those talented and hardworking chefs, who are all so, so skilled, was just breathtaking. That memory will live with me forever. But there were so many great memories. The whole MasterChef experience was so special."
Are there any other secret MasterChef fanatics in the rugby world?
"A lot of the guys cook. They often live on their own, need a lot of fuel and cook bits and pieces. So you never know, there might be another one around the corner. I'm sure they won't be as good as me, but that won't stop them trying, will it? [laughs]"
MasterChef LIVE takes places at London's Olympia from November 11-13. Tickets can be purchased (with Celebrity MasterChef code MC30) on special offer on general admission at two for £30 (2 for £32 on Saturday).
The offer ends on October 27, 2011 and is valid on only adult general admission prices. A £1.75 booking fee applies. More details at www.mastercheflive.com
John and Gregg, Michel and Monica, previous winners, Lisa Faulkner, Tim Anderson, Dhruv Baker, Claire Lara and James Nathan will all be attending the event across the weekend.