Hot on the heels of an ultimatum that saw MasterChef Romania’s first-ever vegan contestant leaving the show, the Portuguese edition of the television program has crowned its latest winner: plant-based chef Teresa Colaço.
Colaço, born in the Algarve but now living in Lisbon, plated up multiple meat-free dishes during her time on the show, and the program’s finale was no exception. The chef, who has a degree in speech therapy, chose to present a plant-based menu for the competition’s finale, proving that animal-free food can triumph in one of the world’s largest cooking shows.
Colaço wrote on Instagram that the victory was “an honor.”
‘Just the beginning’
In November, Colaço commented that she is “at a great disadvantage” compared to her fellow contestants, “all of whom are excellent cooks and master animal protein and Portuguese cuisine.”
“I don’t master one or the other, my forte is vegetables, legumes, algae, and some strange ingredients in between, which few people here know about.”
“I need to focus a lot, study a lot, and be attentive to every detail,” she stated.
Her determination paid off, with the mother of two securing the top place on February 26.
But according to Colaço, “this is just the beginning.” In a statement, the 32-year-old said she wants to “take plant-based food as far as possible.”
Vegan contestant leaves MasterChef
Meanwhile, in Romania, the country’s MasterChef program was taking a different turn.
During an elimination round, judges instructed the contestants to cook a dish containing meat. Alex Lenghel, a vegan and professional athlete, objected, saying to do so would clash with his ethical principles.
“I’d like to ask you again Alex, are you going to cook the meat, or are you going to go home?” one judge queried. In response, Lenghel removed his apron and left the set.
Speaking to Plant Based News, the vegan of three years (and vegetarian for six) explained that veganism is about more than just food. “I told them, I couldn’t do that … It’s about what message you want to send,” Lenghel said.
Like Colaço, Lenghel has no plans to stop now. Both chefs aim to dedicate their post-MasterChef time to promoting and celebrating plant-based cooking and nutrition.