Jay Tinker, a 40-year-old security director, says he picked up a few tips from his Chinese ex-wife.
Tinker, who used to work as a doorman in Majorca, said: I've taught all my 17-stone doorman mates to cook, they now love it and Valentine's Day is a busy day for me - I've got every one of them on the phone after recipe tips and advice. The contestants have been whittled down from 24 this week, and will face each other for the first time on next Tuesday's BBC1 show.
They will have to cook for a selection of previous MasterChef winners, as well as last year's finalists.
Competing this year will be Afsaneh Kaviani, 50, from Leeds, a widowed sales assistant who said: During the many difficult times in my life, my kitchen has been my sanctuary. Other soon-to-be stars of the show include plasterer Tom Rennolds, A&E doctor Ashvy Dale, London-based research analyst Andrew Kojima and Aki Matsushima, 25, who is studying for a PhD in quantum physics.