The most successful contestants from TV cooking and baking shows

Who are the most successful contestants from our favourite TV cooking shows?

Magnet Masterchef

Cooking and baking competitions have become some of the most loved shows on British television.

Hosted by some of the most entertaining celebrity chefs on TV, we can’t help but tune in to see if a soufflé will rise or if pastry will succumb to the fate of a soggy bottom.

In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in cooking and baking competition shows, from MasterChef, launched for the first time in the UK in 1990, to the beloved Great British Bake Off, first aired in 2010.

And we’ve witnessed some of these amateurs as they’ve gone on to have successful careers in the food industry. But which TV contestants have enjoyed the greatest success?

We analysed 149 contestants across four of the most popular TV cooking and baking shows, looking at their TV appearances, number of restaurants, Instagram earnings and more, to find out who has been the most successful since first appearing on our screens.

Read on to find out what we discovered.

The 15 most successful contestants from TV cooking and baking shows in the UK

1st place: Nadiya Hussain has been crowned the most successful contestant from the UK’s TV cooking and baking shows.

From our ranking of 149 contestants, it’s The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) winner from 2015 that has taken the pole position.

Since conquering this competition, she has experienced a successful career within the food, publishing and entertainment industries.

She has kept herself busy by writing 14 books, from cooking and baking to children’s stories, appearing 113 times in different TV shows, and collaborating on a range of projects including writing for The Times.

2nd place: In second place is Candice Brown, who won the GBBO the year after Nadiyah, in 2016.

After winning this competition, she quit her job as a PE teacher to pursue a career within the food and entertainment industries.

She is a food writer for The Sunday Times, and has also ventured onto the big screen, appearing in the film ‘Love Sarah’ in 2020, which, appropriately, centres around a bakery.

Her popularity also seems to be on the rise on Google, receiving 105,720 searches from 2017 to 2021.

3rd place: MasterChef finalist Andrew Kojima is in third place in our list. After reaching the pinnacle of amateur cooking in the final back in 2012, he turned his passion for cooking into his profession.

He left his career as an investment research analyst and decided to promote his love for Japanese food and drink. After working in 11 Michelin-starred kitchens, he went on to own his own Michelin Plate restaurant.

Explore our full index of the most successful contestants from TV cooking and baking shows in the UK below.

Contestants who've owned the most restaurants or bakeries

When it comes to contestants who've owned the most restaurants, Thomasina Miers sits in first place.

After her win in the MasterChef kitchen back in 2005, she opened her first Wahaca restaurant in London in 2007. Across the UK, she opened 25 restaurants as part of the franchise , plus two more restaurants called DF Mexico, based around Mexican street food.

Ranked in second place is Larkin Cen, a finalist in MasterChef back in 2013.

Since participating in the show, he has opened four restaurants called Woky Ko in his home city of Bristol, based on Asian cuisine, and he has recently opened one more in Newport.

He is now considered one of the UK’s most successful Chinese chefs.

In third place, Simon Wood, winner of MasterChef 2015, has opened four restaurants as part of the WOOD Restaurant Group.

Since it’s opening, WOOD Manchester has won two AA Rosettes and has been recommended in the 2020 Michelin Guide.

In fourth and fifth places, Mat Follas and Kenny Tutt, both winners of MasterChef, have opened – or are in the process of opening – three restaurants respectively.

Contestants with the most Michelin experience

Michelin’s restaurant rating system can change the fate of a restaurant and elevate a chef’s profile. A Michelin recommendation is a sign of quality and a guarantee of excellent food.

Therefore, our research ranked which TV contestants have the most Michelin experience through either owning or working at a Michelin restaurant.

After his participation in MasterChef, Andrew Kojima took a training programme in Michelin-starred kitchens across the UK and Europe, working in 11 luxury kitchens run by Michelin star chefs including Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal.

He has also cooked for the Queen, as well as a wide range of celebrities. His restaurant Koj has won awards including Best Restaurant in the Cheltenham BID Awards in 2018, and was recommended in the Michelin Guide in 2019 and 2020.

He also offers private masterclasses for those who want to improve their sushi techniques.

In second place lies Natalie Coleman, winner of MasterChef in 2013.

She used to work as a credit controller and as a Techno DJ, but after her victory, she got into the world of refined dining by gaining experience working across eight Michelin kitchens, including Le Gavroche with Michel Roux Jr and L’Enclume with Simon Rogan.

Alex Rushmer, Shelina Permalloo and Andy Oliver, also contestants of MasterChef, complete the top five.

Just one year after appearing on the show, Alex opened the award-winning Hole in the Wall restaurant that went on to earn two AA Rosettes.

He now runs Vanderlyle in Cambridge and offers his services for private dining.

After winning the show, Shelina worked at Michelin Restaurants Nahm and Benares, and Andy is the head chef and co-founder of London restaurant Som Saa which has a Michelin Guide recommendation.

Most influencial Instagrammers

Our research also looked at how much money these TV contestants could potentially earn from sponsored posts on Instagram.

Nadiya Hussain claims first place and could potentially earn £2,195.28 per sponsored post. She has an impressive 767,039 followers on Instagram.

Edward Kimber, winner of GBBO in 2010, is the second highest paid contestant on Instagram, earning an estimated £1,044 per sponsored post.

In third place is Rahul, winner of GBBO in 2018, with 314,342 Instagram followers which could earn him an impressive £905.76 per sponsored post.

Coming in fourth place Kim-Joy Hewlett, finalist of GBBO in 2018, has 312,352 followers, meaning she is estimated to earn £897.12 per sponsored post.

Most TV appearances

It seems Nadiya has also captured the hearts of TV audiences, by sitting proudly at the top of the list for appearing the most on our screens out of all the other contestants.

She has appeared 113 times across 37 different TV shows since winning the GBBO competition. She released her first mini-series documentary in 2016, ‘The Chronicles of Nadiya’, and in 2020 released another mini-series documentary called ‘Nadiya Bakes’.

She regularly appears on Saturday Kitchen, among other shows.

In second place, John Whaite, who studied law and became the winner of GBBO in 2012, has appeared 57 times across 13 TV shows.

He has appeared in numerous episodes of TV shows such as ‘Lorraine’ and ‘Chopping Block’.

Candice’s fame put her on the big screen as well as numerous TV shows, and she has appeared on our screens 51 times in total since she won the GBBO show in 2016.

Based on this, she has reached the third place in our top five podium.

Despite finishing in 5th place on GBBO in 2017, this didn’t stop Liam Charles from pursuing a successful career within the food and entertainment industries.

His charming personality has landed him 37 appearances across 11 different shows, including hosting ‘Junior Bake Off’ and his mini-series ‘Liam Bakes’.

Thomasina Miers from the spicy Wahaca kitchens claims the fifth position, with 13 appearances across 11 TV shows.

The most published books

Despite her lack of social media success and TV appearances, Hannah Miles, MasterChef 2007 finalist, claims the top position when it comes to the greatest number of books published.

She has published 32 books since appearing on our screens, with her first book, ‘The Big Book of Cakes & Cookies’, published in 2009.

Since then, she has published ‘The Gluten-free Baker’, ‘Sundaes & Splits’, ‘Whoopie Pies’ and many more.

In second place, Scottish Sue Lawrence, winner of MasterChef way back in 1991, has published 16 books.

These have included cooking titles such as ‘On Baking’ and ‘A Taste of Scotland’s Islands’, and she is also a novelist, releasing her debut novel ‘Fields of Blue Flax’ in 2015.

She won the Glenfiddich Food and Drink Awards for Best Regional Writer in 2003.

Nadiya’s name appears yet again, as she’s written numerous cookery books as well as books for children, publishing 14 books in total.

She has reached bestseller for various books such as ‘Nadiya's Family Favourites’, ‘Nadiya's British Food Adventure’ and the ‘Nadiya's Bake Me a Story’ trilogy, landing her in third place.

In fourth place is Thomasina who has written and co-edited seven books such as ‘Soup Kitchen’, ‘Mexican Food Made Simple’ and her latest book published in 2017, ‘Home Cook’.

She has also written for well-known newspapers such as The Financial Times, The Times and The Guardian.

Edward Kimber made it into our top five by publishing four books. His first book ‘Boy Who Bakes’ was published in 2011, only one year after he became popular from his GBBO appearance.

His latest book, published in 2020, is called ‘One Tin Bakes’.

Who are we searching for the most?

Perhaps surprisingly, Rahul Mandal, winner of 2018’s GBBO, claims the first position as the most searched for TV contestant, with 209,550 total Google searches from 2017 to 2021.

That’s almost five times more searches than for Nadiyah, who has only been searched for 42,450 times in the same period.

In second place is Ruby Bhongal who made it to the final of GBBO in 2018 and received a huge 180,080 searches from 2017 to 2021. She's followed by Kim-Joy Hewlett in third place with an impressive 178,680 searches.

Liam Charles comes in a fourth place, while Manon Lagrève, quarter finalist in GBBO 2017 takes the fifth spot.

For many of these remarkable contestants, appearing in these famous kitchens was just the beginning of a successful career.

Feeling inspired to improve your cooking or baking skills? Here at Magnet, we can help you to build your dream kitchen with our kitchen planner tool, with the option to add a range of premium appliances including cookers, ovens and more.

Explore our blog for more inspiration on how to transform your kitchen into a beautiful and professional space.


Our research looked at 7 data points:

  • Estimated Instagram earning per post, calculated on 18.03.21 using Influencer Marketing Hub Calculator.
  • Number of published books using Amazon books search.
  • Number of TV appearances and TV shows using IMBD.
  • Total number of Google searches from 2017 to 2021 using Keyword Planner.
  • Michelin career experience by analysing who has owned or worked at a Michelin restaurant.
  • Number of restaurants, bakeries, and franchises based on contestant’s personal websites.
  • Different areas of the food industry each contestant ventured into, including owning cookery schools, offering catering services and private master classes, and more.

We used min-max normalisation to determine the overall ranking (0-10), with 10 being the best score. Percentages have been rounded to their nearest decimal place.