How Masterchef winner Brin's family fled Sri Lanka's bloody civil war to build new life in UK – as chef reveals he was inspired by his GP fiancee (and says the skills he learned as a vet helped him to victory!)

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Masterchef winner Brin Pirathapan, 29, is the son of two Sri Lankan war refugees and was helped to victory by his ‘biggest supporter and toughest critic’ – his doctor fiancée Anna.

The qualified veterinary surgeon from Bristol beat 57 other contestants to be crowned victorious in the 20th series by Greg Wallace and John Torode in the final episode, which aired on the BBC on Wednesday night.

Now it can be revealed that Essex-born Brin is set to be married this summer to his beloved partner who has long been supportive of his culinary ambitions.

But fans of the chef were especially touched last night after a segment of the show revealed Brin’s Tamil parents had to flee to Britain from Sri Lanka during the country’s 26-year civil war. 

The talented chef became emotional when asked about his past, telling Masterchef producers: ‘They came to the UK because Sri Lanka was not a safe place to be.’

The qualified veterinary surgeon from Bristol beat 57 other contestants to be crowned victorious in the 20th series

The qualified veterinary surgeon from Bristol beat 57 other contestants to be crowned victorious in the 20th series

Brin Pirathapan, 29, was born to Tamil parents who fled the bloody Sri Lankan war for their own safety

Brin Pirathapan, 29, was born to Tamil parents who fled the bloody Sri Lankan war for their own safety

Brin's parents Gopal and Darley told the programme they are extremely proud of their son

Brin’s parents Gopal and Darley told the programme they are extremely proud of their son

It is believed Brin’s family may have lost relatives in the war, which was waged between the Sinhalese-dominated government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) insurgent group.

When asked if many of his family had been lost in the conflict, he told the Times: ‘I don’t know how much I want to go into that. I think it’s my parents’ story and I’d rather leave it to them.’

Since the war, which lasted from 1983 until 2009 and led to the deaths of an estimated 100,000 people, the state has been globally criticised for its conduct due to the persecution of minority Tamils during the conflict.

Growing up in Chelmsford, Brin was immersed in Sri Lankan Tamil flavours as a child – but did not exactly take to the chef’s hat from birth.

‘I remember vividly when I was eight or nine putting pizzas in the oven for my brother and thinking I was this amazing chef,’ he told Masterchef producers.

‘I’m really lucky because I’ve got this amazing spicy culinary background from my parents.’

He added he thought himself ‘more sophisticated’ when he began prepping meals with mutiple ingredients – frankenfurters and packet noodles. 

Brin moved to Bristol to attend university, where he studied to become a vet. It is here that his culinary prowess really took off as he challenged himself to be creative with meals on a budget.

‘He does love his job but I think he’s always been much more passionate about cooking,’ Brin’s fiancée Anna told the programme.

‘It’s always been something that when he has a stressful day at work he can come home and he can cook and it makes him feel really calm and relaxed.’ 

Brin’s career as a vet may now be put on hold but arose out of a love of animals.

Brin met his girlfriend Anna at university in Bristol, where he studied to be a veterinary surgeon

Brin met his girlfriend Anna at university in Bristol, where he studied to be a veterinary surgeon

The happy couple are engaged and are set to be married this summer - although Brin joked on Masterchef that the cooking experience was better

The happy couple are engaged and are set to be married this summer – although Brin joked on Masterchef that the cooking experience was better

Brin, pictured with his brother, only discovered his love of cooking after attending university

Brin, pictured with his brother, only discovered his love of cooking after attending university

‘I was very academic kid. I wanted to do something medical but I thought it might be easier talking to animals than talking to humans,’ he said.

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MasterChef viewers gush that Brin Pirathapan is ‘a worthy winner’ after he is crowned champion in the 2024 final

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‘I love the thought of going into something with a patient that is potentially broken and hopefully coming out of it [with them] fully mended.’ 

He said that crucial skills in surgery, such as multitasking and working at speed, greatly helped him during the competition. 

‘You get pretty skilful at handling tweezers in both jobs,’ he told the Times.

Brin’s engineer father Gopal told how the family had chickens and goats to satisfy their son’s love for animals.

Now, he says, they are ‘very proud’ of his journey on the cooking competition show. 

‘We never ever expected he was going to make us this proud,’ his mother, Darley, added.

Speaking about the competition, Brin said: It’s been fantastic. It’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. All I know is I have to involve cooking into my future.’

In the final Brin created a winning three-course meal starting with fried capers, pickled chilli, pickled and charred shallots, orange and honey-glazed octopus with tempura mussels, herb tuilles dusted with scallop roe, an orange gel and samphire, on a romesco sauce.

Brin and his brother grew up in Chelmsford, Essex, with their parents, chickens and goats

Brin and his brother grew up in Chelmsford, Essex, with their parents, chickens and goats

Following his dramatic win, Brin can now focus on his wedding plans with his partner, Anna, who is a doctor

Following his dramatic win, Brin can now focus on his wedding plans with his partner, Anna, who is a doctor

Brin's parents said his love of animals meant they had chickens and goats when he was a child

Brin’s parents said his love of animals meant they had chickens and goats when he was a child

Cooking his way past 57 other culinary competitors after eight weeks of challenges, Brin's high stakes cook-off was in the Final Three, against Louise Lyons Macleod and Chris Willoughby

Cooking his way past 57 other culinary competitors after eight weeks of challenges, Brin’s high stakes cook-off was in the Final Three, against Louise Lyons Macleod and Chris Willoughby

MasterChef viewers praised Brin Pirathapan as a 'worthy winner' after he was crowned champion of the 2024 series on Wednesday night

MasterChef viewers praised Brin Pirathapan as a ‘worthy winner’ after he was crowned champion of the 2024 series on Wednesday night

The main course was spiced venison loin, beef short-rib and pickled mushroom tartlet, celeriac and miso purée, salt-baked beetroot and pak choi, served with a gochujang and red wine sauce split with a herb oil. 

His dessert featured white chocolate and cardamom and saffron cremeux, with pistachio meringue shards, whisky-poached mango, raspberry gel, pistachio crumb and a mango, lime and chili sorbet. 

Fans of the young chef were initially concerned after they saw him peering intently at a piece of paper with just 30 seconds to go in the mammoth challenge.

But Brin explained he was simply checking he had all of his ingredients on the plates.

‘I was creating between 10 and 15 separate elements for each dish. Multiplied over three courses that’s 40-odd elements so without a tick list it could go wrong.

‘With 30 seconds to go I realised the salt-baked beetroot was still sitting in its bowl of marinade. That could’ve been the difference between losing and winning.’

His dishes saw him praised by Wallace as ‘one of the cleverest talents I’ve seen’. 

Following his dramatic win, Brin can now focus on his wedding plans with his partner, Anna, who is a doctor.

During the show he joked: ‘I’m getting married next year and I don’t think it’s going be as good as today.’ 

Speaking to the Times after his win, Brin said: ‘I got in the car immediately after and rang her. I said, “You’re going to be happy because it got a laugh, but I may have told them the banquet was better than our wedding, which hasn’t even happened yet.” 

‘Anna is a trouper; she found it funny and knows I didn’t mean it.’