Many readers will know that I am a great fan of the Master Chef series and in particular the Professionals. Each year it gets better and the standard of these chefs is incredible. I am sometimes concerned about those that cannot do the basics’ though. The final four competitors were well deserved; not least the young female chef, Philli. Now only 28 years of age Philli practised for Masterchef: The Professionals by buying a one-way plane ticket to Japan, where she spent a year travelling from Japan to Indonesia. While she was there, she worked in restaurants, visited Kobe beef farms, and ate mochi, among other activities.
Philli, who is now 28, works in consultancy with Nutshell Food and runs cooking masterclasses for skilled chefs at her business Chef Tribe. During the first heat of the series, Philli impressed the judges with her travel-inspired dishes! She started at the age of 22, when she joined Gordon Ramsay and became passionate about Asian food.
Another star was Santosh Shah originally from Nepal wowed us with some of inspired dishes. Since the competition he is now responsible as headchef at Cinnamon Collection group. The 34-year-old is also the executive chef of Saffron Circle UK. He was originally born and raised in a village in Nepal called Karjanha, Siraha. As the youngest of 7 siblings he was inspired by his chef brother.
Santosh moved from Nepal to India at 15 years old, to work as a commis in a five-star restaurant for 10 years
He then relocated from Gujarat to London 10 years ago – one of his first jobs was at Brasserie Blanc. Santosh has now been a chef for 20 years.
Bart van der Lee, 33, is a private chef from the Netherlands who has his own and recipe site.
He started his cooking career at the age of 16, with his first job as a chef at Toine Hermsen, a Michelin star restaurant in Maastricht, Netherlands.The contestant is married to wife Ana, who he met in Turks and Caicos, and has two young daughters. He has travelled the world as a private chef, including working on superyachts and cooking at ski resorts. What a lucky family they are.
But the Master Chef Champion 2020 was Alex Webb.
Alexander Henry Webb, 25, is head chef at Square 1 restaurant, in Dunmow, Essex.
The contestant says he has been a chef since he was 14 years old.
He started out working as a pot wash at the same restaurant that he currently works at, before going off to learn from different restaurants, and returning to showcase his skills.
He received high praise from critics and top UK chefs during the competition, including at the Chef’s Table, where Anna Haugh described his dish as “perfect in every single way”, while Aktar Islam called it “incredible”.
Webb said: “It is the best feeling I have ever had in my life. To walk away with the trophy is incredible. I am so proud.”
Marcus Wareing said “Today was Alex’s finest day. We have seen a young chef come of age. He is a brilliant young chef, I love his thirst for knowledge, and he has cooked beyond his years. MasterChef is about the next generation and for me, as a chef, I see Alex as the future.”
Monica Galetti added: “Alex’s food has a cheeky sense of humour in it. There is a bit of his youth, which comes through in his cooking, which makes it very different, and that is something I have really enjoyed.”
ALEX’S FINAL MENU
Starter: Scallop ceviche with an artichoke and pickled pear tartare and a watercress oil
Main: Lightly cured pan seared trout and a mussel, caviar and cream sauce with crispy parsnips and a mini fish pie made from crispy potato skins filled with trout belly and mussels
Dessert: Tempered chocolate dome filled with passion fruit and white chocolate parfait inspired by a passion fruit martini with a party popper of passion ruit powder and a Prosecco ice cream