RTÉ is delighted to announce the line up for the new summer series of Celebrity MasterChef

The eight celebrities who will be donning the signature white and orange MasterChef aprons this July will be:


  1. Writer and comic actor Gary Cooke
  2. Writer and broadcaster Maia Dunphy
  3. Athlete David Gillick
  4. National Lottery presenter Kamal Ibrahim
  5. Former model and columnist Yvonne Keating
  6. RTÉ newcaster Aengus Mac Grianna
  7. RTÉ sports presenter Tracy Piggott
  8. Irish Times Consumer Affairs Correspondent Conor Pope


Michelin-starred chef Dylan McGrath and top restaurateur Nick Munier will return to screens to put the eight celebrities through their paces in a series of master classes and challenges.


Speaking about the new series Dylan McGrath said: “I am very excited about the first Celebrity MasterChef series. We have such a broad selection of celebrities who are professionals in their own right using their love of food and their competitive passion to win, which I think will make for a great competition. I am really interested to see who breaks away from the pack and takes the first ever title of Celebrity MasterChef.”


Nick Munier said: “I’m over the moon that we are coming back for a third series of MasterChef and putting our eight celebrities through their paces. I’m hoping to see passion, skill, common sense and a good humoured chef.  We have a group of celebrities that we think have what it takes to come out of their comfort zone and rise to the challenge to take the title of Celebrity MasterChef.”


Grainne McAleer, RTÉ Head of Lifestyle and Formats said:I’m thrilled to see this celebrity version of MasterChef coming to our screens this summer. I know that Irish viewers will enjoy the cut and thrust of the antics in the kitchen and the camaraderie between the eight chefs. I believe it will be very revealing to see certain personalities unfold in new circumstances away from the situations that the Irish public are used to thinking of them in. Viewers will be treated to an array of emotional highs and lows, a mix of amazing culinary tips with a dash of competition all under the watchful eyes of Nick and Dylan. Bon appétit! ”

Larry Bass Executive Producer and CEO, Screentime ShinAwiL Ltd. said, “Screentime ShinAwiL are delighted to introduce an Irish audience to a very entertaining strand of the global hit MasterChef, Celebrity MasterChef will include all that is great about MasterChef in terms of quality with the added dimension of a celebrity cast that are out to impress Dylan and Nick like their careers depend on it, it will be must see TV.”


Over six weeks these eight celebrities will be put through a series of intense tasks and challenges to test their culinary talent and skill as they try to impress the MasterChef Ireland judges, Nick Munier and Dylan McGrath.  Contestants will be eliminated at different stages throughout the series until there is one winner who will be crowned the first Celebrity MasterChef Ireland Champion 2013.


The series will run for six weeks from July on RTÉ One.
Amateur chefs with aspirations to compete in the third series of MasterChef Ireland should keep an eye on local and national press in the coming weeks for details on the upcoming application process.


MasterChef Ireland is produced for RTÉ by Screentime ShinAwiL LTD.



Date issued: Thursday May 30th 2013



For press queries please contact:


Rayna Connery, Acting Senior Press Officer, RTÉ Television Press Office 01 2083169/ 087 9862902 or email rayna.connery@rte.ie



  • Please note that due to a busy filming schedule Dylan, Nick and the eight celebrities are not available for interviews this week. The RTÉ Press Office will arrange interviews closer to transmission. Journalists can register their interest in interviewing any of the eight celebrities by emailing rayna.connery@rte.ie


  • A group photo of the eight celebrities with Nick and Dylan will be sent to national picture desks to accompany this press release






Gary Cooke is a writer and actor, best known for being one third of Après Match on RTÉ in which he portrays Eamon Dunphy.


As a comic actor, Gary starred as Dunphia the wood nymph (Eamon Dunphy) and Fergie the Hair Dryer God (Alex Ferguson) in the musical comedy I, Keano. He also appeared in a leading role in Paul Howard’s hit Ross O’Carroll Kelly comedy Between Foxrock and a Hard Place at the Gaiety Theatre Dublin and in The Government Inspector in a new adaptation by Roddy Doyle the Abbey Theatre.


He also appeared as one of the judges, Vernon Fentor, on the ITV/TV3 drama Rock Rivals, a series following the lives of two celebrity judges on an X Factor style show as their marriage falls apart. Gary co-wrote, with Malachy McKenna, and starred in the musical MacBecks at the Olympia Theatre.


As a writer, Gary co-wrote with Malachy McKenna a political version of Cinderella which was performed at the Gaiety Theatre. He also co-wrote the script for Gaiety Pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk.

In 2010, he signed up with gambling company Ladbrokes as “world-famous Italian manager” Gino Stromboli. Most recently Gary co- wrote and starred in TV3 comedy, On the Couch and as a writer and performer on RTÉ’s Irish Pictorial Weekly.




Maia Dunphy has worked as an entertainment writer and producer for over 10 years, mainly writing for comedy shows and characters such as Dustin the Turkey, Podge and Rodge, Zig and Zag and Katherine Lynch, as well as the IFTA-winning Bronx Bunny Show. Maia also wrote the spoof autobiography of Mr Tayto which controversially kept former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern off the top of the Christmas book charts in 2009.


Maia’s weekly columns in the Herald newspaper and Dubliner magazine led to the start of a front of camera career with her first documentary From Boom to Maternity in 2012, which took a wry look at the decision to have children and the realities of leaving it too late. She subsequently became a regular face and voice on several RTÉ shows including The Craig Doyle Show, Today, the Tubridy radio show and an appearance on the Late Late Show’s Christmas panel.


Her popular slot on Tubridy 2FM led to her filling in for Colm Hayes on 2FM over Easter 2013. Her second documentary Merlot and Me, about the rise of women drinking at home, aired in January 2013 and was the highest rating programme of the 2013 Reality Bites series. Maia has further documentaries in the pipeline.


She married comedian Johnny Vegas in 2011.




Born in Dublin, David is a two time European 400m Champion. He is one of Ireland’s most successful sprinters of all time, winning the European indoor championships in 2005 and 2007. He became an Olympian in 2008 and in 2009 finished 6th in the Berlin World Championships. He is the first Irishman to run under the magical 45 second barrier for 400m and is the first Irishman to make a global final for 83 years.

David was also a consistent 44 second runner through 2009 and 2010, running in the top Golden/Diamond league meetings around the world and representing Ireland in finals of European and World championships.

He has had successive world rankings within the top 5 and became one of the fastest white athletes over the distance, which is dominated by American and Caribbean athletes.

In 2011 and 2012 he suffered with injury which resulted in David missing the London Olympic games.



Kamal Orlando Ibrahim from Limerick in Ireland is a television broadcaster and model. Recently based in Sydney, he is a licensed aeroplane, glider and paraglider pilot, skydiver and a scuba search and rescue diver. He is also preparing for his commercial helicopter license which he hopes to complete by 2015.

Kamal began working as a model in 2005 and soon became a favourite in the professional modelling circuit in Ireland. In 2009 he was invited to enter the Mr. Ireland competition which was run by the Miss World Organisation. Kamal entered and won the contest becoming Mr. Ireland 2009. He then went on to represent Ireland in the Mr. World competition in 2010 traveling to South Korea with 73 other international winners. After completing a gruelling competition over three weeks, consisting of physical and mental challenges, Kamal was chosen as Mr. World and named “the most desirable man in the world”. The Mr. World competition was televised to an audience of over one billion viewers throughout Asia, the Americas and Europe.  The title took his modelling career to new heights both in Ireland and Internationally.
As Mr World, Kamal worked as the global ambassador and representative for the MWO across a multitude of media platforms and with a range of responsibilities encompassing international travel, multi-media presenting and public relations. He visited over 20 countries where he hosted and spoke at events to advocate on behalf of disadvantaged children.


Kamal recently returned to Ireland as part of the new National Lottery presenting team and has been presenting the lottery draws since January 2013. Previously he was RTÉ Two Tube’s entertainment correspondent, he appeared in Two for the Road on RTÉ One where he had to to mountain-bike across the Colorado Rockies and also in Charity ICA Bootcamp in 2011 on RTÉ Television.


He also co-hosted Mr World 2012, Online Quiz Show Host at Gold Rush TV and co-presented the Variety Telethon which aired on ABC, CH5 USA.

Kamal has been awarded many accolades throughout his career which include Most Stylish Man at the Peter Mark VIP Style Awards 2010, Style Icon Nominee at Joe.ie Men of the Year Awards 2010; Limerick Person of the Year nominee 2010; Limerick Person of the Month October 2010.




Raised in Straffan Co Kildare, Yvonne was an avid sports fan from a young age and was a competitive horsewoman.  After being spotted by a modelling agent she became one of the most successful models in Ireland gracing the cover of almost every Irish publication with the most versatile look in the industry at the time.  Yvonne appeared in over ten TV commercials, in the UK and Ireland including Coca Cola, Superquinn, Bank of Ireland and the National Lottery.  She was personally asked to work on test commercials for Chanel and Calvin Klein by Hollywood director John Moore. She subsequently worked on a pilot TV show as a presenter, a role she enjoyed and felt very confident in.


In her early twenties and in the prime of her modelling career Yvonne met Ronan Keating.  They married and had three children, Jack, Missy and Ali. Together they travelled the globe raising the children while Yvonne ran their daily routine and also businesses they were involved in.


Although she put her  personal career on hold Yvonne made an appearances on Mr and Mrs with Ronan, with her family in a Nintendo commercial and appeared on the covers of magazines such as Hello, OK, VIP and Irish Tatler. She also did interviews with her husband many times around the world on shows such as This Morning and GMTV and MTV news and documentaries.


Yvonne wrote for VIP Magazine where her column included style and beauty along with a short insight into her world. She has just finished project managing the build and the interior design of her family home and now feels she is ready to start pursuing her passion for TV and Media once more.


Yvonne appeared alongside Elle McPherson in episodes of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model on Sky Living.


Aengus Mac Grianna is an RTÉ newscaster. Aengus was born in Raheny, north Dublin, to an Irish speaking family. Aengus is one of seven children. He attended an Irish speaking primary and secondary school and went on to study Irish, politics and geography in UCD.

On completing college, Aengus entered the RTÉ newsroom where he began his career as overnight editor on RTE Radio One. He has worked in several areas of the RTE Newsroom down through the years, including 2FM, as a reporter on Morning Ireland, News at One, Oireachtas, Foreign, Nuacht. Prior to becoming a full time Newscaster in 1999, Aengus worked for several years as a TV reporter.

Aengus currently presents RTÉ News on 2 and RTÉ News Now.  Aengus lives with his partner Terry on an Alpaca farm near the Naul in north county Dublin.

Tracy Piggott, daughter of eleven times champion jockey, Lester Piggott, has made her mark as a popular sports presenter on RTÉ over the last 24 years.

After leaving school, Tracy travelled to the US and spent 3 years working as a ‘galloper’ in Florida, Kentucky, New York and Los Angeles.  She returned home to work in her mother’s Bloodstock Agency buying and selling horses.In 1986, she came to Ireland and spent 4 years working with trainer, Tommy Stack and has lived here ever since.

Tracy started her broadcasting career in 1989 having won the Peter Mark Ladies Race in Leopardstown in August 1988. Her first broadcast was the ‘89 Derby at the Curragh. She worked concurrently for the BBC covering many race meetings across the water including the Cheltenham and Aintree National Hunt Festivals, Royal Ascot, Goodwood and many more over a four year period until she decided to focus solely on Irish broadcasting.

Since then apart from all the major race meetings here, she has been the main pre and post-match reporter for eight seasons on Rugby’s 6 Nations, Autumn Internationals and Heineken Cups.

She hosts the live coverage of the annual RDS Horse Show in Dublin and has presented a Sports Quiz Show series and Chat Show.

Tracy presented RTÉ’s Sports Stadium for a number of years in the 90s until it ended. She has anchored five Olympic Games for RTÉ Sport, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London.

Her skills are not restricted to horseracing and presenting. In July 1998, she swam across Galway Bay in 7.5 hours. She swam underwater and raised €216k for the John Durcan Leukaemia Trust. In 2000, she cycled from San Diego to Charleston, South Carolina with Sean Kelly and 24 other riders. They covered 2875 miles in 25 days, averaging 130 miles a day, in aid of the National Council for the Blind.

She is never afraid to try new challenges and was amazed to be one of the few to be awarded 5 Stars in the first series of The Restaurant, although she was pipped at the post a few seasons later in a cook off with Kevin Myers…she blames her Fig Tart!

Tracy is also a Pilates Reformer instructor and enjoys keeping fit and spending time outdoors. She has a five year old daughter Thea who certainly keeps her on her toes!



Conor Pope is The Irish Times Consumer Affairs Correspondent and edits the Pricewatch page which appears in the paper every Monday.


Part of his brief sees him trying – and sometimes succeeding – in helping readers who feel they have been wronged by businesses and service providers. He also regularly gives out about rip-offs and reviews all manner of products from high end smart phones to bargain basement baked beans.


He has weekly radio slots on both the Ray D’Arcy Show on Today FM and the George Hook Show on Newstalk where he serves as consumer agony uncle and money saving expert respectively.


He has also written a bestselling money saving book called – helpfully – Stop Wasting Your Money – and presented a television programme on RTÉ called Living Lightly which helped people to live lightly (or at least cheaply).


Before draping himself in his consumer champion’s cloak he was the deputy editor of The Irish Times website.




Dylan McGrath is one of Ireland’s top chefs who gained his first Michelin star at the age of 29. His restaurant Rustic Stone is one of the most popular in Dublin. His most recent venture is Fade Street by Dylan McGrath.




Nick Munier is a restaurateur and maitre d’, who has worked in the industry for over 20 years working with some of the world’s best chefs, including Marco Pierre White and the Roux brothers.  His Dublin restaurant Pichet is popular with critics and the public alike.





Screentime ShinAwiL is the production powerhouse behind some of Ireland’s biggest entertainment series including Dragons’ Den, MasterChef Ireland, The Apprentice and The Voice of Ireland.

Screentime ShinAwiL is delighted to be producing the hugely successful international format MasterChef Ireland for RTÉ One.


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