The former head chef at Isabel in Mayfair, London, took part in MasterChef: The Professionals in 2018, reaching the final four in the competition. Katherine Alano caught up with him to find out what he’s been up to since
You took part in the last series of MasterChef: The Professionals – had you ever taken part in a chef competition before that?
Yes, when I was 18 I competed in the BCF Young Chef of the Year and placed third. The competition was at Birmingham College with a small seating area for people to watch – slightly less pressure than having the entire nation watching you on their screens!
The competition appears to get harder every year. What was the toughest part for you?
Although it’s tough throughout, the toughest for me was the skills test. It’s really nerve-racking as it’s the first time you enter the studio and meet the judges. I was asked to make a sausage meat ravioli with a sauce chasseur. Thankfully, for me, it went well, but I’m sure that there are many chefs out there who could make it in their sleep but would struggle on the day. It’s not an easy round.
What did you learn the most from your experience on the show?
That it takes a lot more time and it’s harder than it looks on TV. There’s lots of behind the scenes recipe writing and dodging cameras. It’s filmed over a period of a few months and, with the audition and interview stages too, before you know it, the competition has taken up a big chunk of your year. That said, it’s a massively rewarding experience and I would recommend to absolutely anyone.
You became known for your innovative ideas in the kitchen and you have a big focus on waste reduction. What steps have you taken in your own kitchen?
I think it takes a little more thought and creativity to do something special with ‘waste’. I’ve found chefs are generally pretty good at this. I consciously try to use each part of an ingredient in my dishes and plan carefully when preparing a menu to minimise waste.
The more people talk about this problem the better. There has definitely been more and more awareness on the subject over the past few years, and I think we’re starting to get somewhere now which is incredibly exciting.
What have you been doing since the show aired?
We [the finalists] have been doing a number of pop-ups, and it has been great to meet everyone and cook together again. And there’s been a few dinner parties.
So you are still in touch with some of the contestants?
Yes, that’s a great part of the competition. I met some cool people and I speak to them almost every day. A few Mondays a month we get together somewhere in the country and we cook up a storm under the Sauce Supper Club. We do an eight-course tasting menu for 100 people – 800 plates of food from four chefs isn’t bad going!
What are your plans for the future?
I have always wanted my own restaurant. I have some really exciting plans ahead and I hope to launch my own restaurant later this year. It should be an interesting year for me.