is coming to an end after a tense eight weeks, which has seen 12 contestants take part in tricky challenges from diving down into the depths of caves to delivering food on a high-wire suspended .
In , the Michelin-starred chef will choose to invest £150,000 in, after tasking them with the challenge of bringing their business to life.
, whose business is focused on plantain based snacks, and Leah Harkess, who sells free-from brownies for her business , contestant Stephanie Buttery is fighting for the investment for her company , which sells Japanese inspired soft-drinks.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk about her journey throughout the competition, Steph shared how much she’s loved the experience, despite how it has come across in the series.
She told us: ‘It all just went really really well. I loved it. I enjoyed it. And that’s one thing I think the editing has missed out, that I really, really enjoyed my time doing that show and after kind of eight weeks it was very difficult, it’s definitely an experience, but I don’t think I would change anything.’
While commenting that on the show Steph comes across in a different way to how she is in real life, the 30-year-old revealed: ‘After episode three I got trolled horrendously for being this kind of military b**** and I don’t think that’s strictly true, so yeah there were points where the editing is telling a story, and they are constricted.’
In 2019, Steph came up with her idea after being deployed with the Royal Navy and spending four months in Japan. ‘I fell in love with everything about Japanese culture, it’s fun, it doesn’t take itself too seriously,’ she said.
‘They love this drink called Chu-Hi, which is a sour fizz cocktail. So when I came back to the UK I thought, “Where can I get this same sour fizz?” And I couldn’t see anything, and when you look at the soft drinks industry it’s dull and unchanged, and I thought that there is a gap here, and that I was young and cool enough to pull this off.’
Since then, Steph’s brand has closed deals with major Japanese food chains including Yo Sushi, more than 100 independent stockists and Japanese lifestyle stores, and has launched in Game and HMV.
‘Things are going one way for us, and that was aside from the show,’ she told us.
Having worked in the Royal Navy before the show, and for the NHS in PPE logistics during the pandemic, Steph explained how she’s managed to maintain her calm attitude throughout the show, which has featured numerous tears and .
She said: ‘In the navy, you find yourself in the situations, and it dawns on you over 12 years how dangerous it is, but you’ve been taught in these small increments so it doesn’t feel dangerous or scary, and I think that during the show that’s one thing that comes across quite well, the military training, I don’t really get phased very much.’
Explaining that she always imagined being in a position like this, starting and running her own successful business, Steph shared: ‘I kind of did [think I would start my own business one day]. I’m the kind of person that loved having money. I used to wash cars, and if I wasn’t washing cars I was selling a magazine I wrote for 10p or whatever, and then even in the military I was always known as someone who could find money for stuff.
‘Whenever I went on a ship I had a list of things where I knew I could get money. It’s a skill I picked up – there’s always money for stuff, you just need to know where to look.
‘When it came to building a business, keeping money is crucial, and so being someone that knows where to find money, wherever that money might be, is really important, and I guess I saw Gordon Ramsay as a source of investment and a source of money.
‘Entrepreneurship runs in my family and so there is the entrepreneurial spirit in the family, and I’m not the kind of person that can sit back and take on a 9-5 job which is kind of why I joined the military I suppose. But there’s definitely part of me that thinks what could have happened if I’d gone the other way.’
Speaking about what she expected from the show, and working with Chef Ramsay, Steph said: ‘When I applied and I was going through everything I was figuring it was going to be a bit more like The Apprentice, where Gordon comes and he introduces the thing and then goes, but I didn’t realise that when we were at The Savoy he would literally be behind me like, “Why the f*** have you done that?”’
She continued: ‘But there are definite points where you go off-camera and he’s like “Don’t worry Steph I won’t make you look stupid, that’s not the idea of this.” And there was a lot of nurturing, like when we were at the farm making food and we made this disgusting hummus and I was like “We’re going to feed Gordon this horrible, horrible hummus,” and he ate it and then he was like “If you confit the garlic it will taste sweeter not bitter,” and I was like “I’ve never heard of confit garlic but Gordon Ramsay’s just taught me how to do it and that’s cool,” and that’s a real once in a lifetime thing.’
‘He is an absolute powerhouse, and he’s so driven and it’s amazing seeing him up close because he’s clearly very passionate about what he was doing, and that rubbed off on me because I want to be better because I want his investment.’
She added: ‘Gordon’s quite good at keeping his cool and he really is a measured guy, he won’t just snap back. He always got the last laugh but it was always in a measured way that wasn’t degrading anybody particularly. Like at The Savoy he comes in like, “This is my f***ing reputation, you need to sort it out,” and that didn’t get aired, even though he was really cross.’
Tonight, Gordon will pick his finalist to invest £150,000 in, and whether or not Steph receives his investment, she revealed how much Chu Lo has already grown and expanded since filming the series last year.
‘We’re doing more drinks, we’re expanding it to different countries, but we’re keeping online and we’re keeping quite niche to the gaming sector, although Gordon called the gaming sector small, I think he’s going to regret that,’ Steph admitted.
Gordon Ramsay’s Future Food Stars continues tonight on BBC One at 9pm, and is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.