MAKING the finals of MasterChef was like competing at the Grand National for a Dollar teacher.

Jilly McCord was full of pride after she made it all the way to the last episode of this year's season of the popular cooking show and gave thanks for the support she had received locally.

And while she ultimately did not quite manage to clinch the sought-after title, she was gracious in defeat and paid tribute to the outstanding culinary skills of her opponents.

A long-time fan of the TV cooking contest, Jilly, a former rugby union internationalist who captained Scotland in 2007 and earned 28th caps, decided to apply after family and friends suggested it.

The teacher described getting through the first auditions as an "amazing achievement", before going from strength to strength in later rounds.

Jilly told the Advertiser: "The first day was pretty terrifying; you are thrown into it really.

"You just arrive one day and then the next you are thrown into the kitchen and just get on with it – there's not much preparation.

"Just to get past every round felt like an achievement and you got a bit more confidence every time.

"To get to the final three, especially when there have been such strong cooks...was like the Grand National really."

Jilly was full of praise for the skills on display among her fellow cooks and she even helped to make a little bit of TV history.

In the first-ever all-female final, Jilly was up against Delia-Maria Asser and eventual winner Irini Tzortzoglou.

Jilly said: "Irini was definitely the deserving one at the end of the day.

"She didn't make any mistakes and I know what a good cook she is.

"There were a couple of things there weren't quite right my dishes, I think I knew that myself."

She added: "At the end of it I felt real pride and relief getting that far and joy for Irini and for Delia – I think we all got on very well."

Receiving praise for her dishes throughout the 24 episodes was always a pleasant experience while one of the other highlights for Jilly came in the penultimate episode.

It featured a masterclass from renowned cook Raymond Blanc, who has had two Michelin stars for the last 30 years.

In a bid to test the contestants, he asked them to re-create his signature café crème dessert.

Jilly continued: "It was challenging ,but I am such a big fan of his that it was just a really-really special day."

Giving thanks for the local support, she said it was an "uplifting experience" to hear how everyone was rooting for her together.

In turn she hopes she managed to inspire some of the young people, showing you can achieve anything if you give it your best shot.