For months I'd been toying with the idea of applying for MasterChef: The Professionals...the nagging self doubts fought a bitter struggle with my desire to see how far I could actually get. Could I hold my own against some of the brightest young culinary talent this Country has to offer?
It had been a while since I had cooked in a restaurant, the truth is I missed it a lot. But what with family commitments as well as needing time for my personal beliefs, time was precious.
It wasn't until my husband showed me that he had practically completed the MasterChef application form that I almost begrudgingly agreed to hit that dreaded 'submit' button.
Whatever I said must have resonated with someone on the production team because before long it was confirmed I would be asked to be on the show. I was nervous, very nervous, happy, excited and terrified in almost equal amounts.
The time came for the filming, I joined lots of other equally nervous candidates and the show was under way! For weeks and weeks I worked late into the night using my husband as a (not very reluctant I might add!) guinea pig to test my ideas. I tweaked that, I adjusted this and tried desperately to commit recipes and methods to memory.
For me, the hardest part of the process was the Invention Tests. Without doubt they separate the women from the girls! I am a planner, at least when it comes to my food. I like to test and re-test my dishes until I am completely happy with them. I feel I owe my diners that. Nobody wants to pay a pretty penny for a meal that is 'fresh frozen' or whacked together with no practice or thought. I put my name and literally staked my career on the dishes I cooked on MasterChef: The Professionals. In my opinion, there aren't many Chefs willing to risk that.
Hearing the feedback and comments from judges I have looked up to for many years was probably the best thing about the process for me. To hear their condemnation as well as praise made me glow inside. Sure, at the time it was the most challenging thing I had ever undertaken, but in hindsight it was worth it. Why?
Because the answer to my initial question was finally realised. I had been told by many people that I could cook, but could I really cook, turns out I got the answer I hoped for, and sure I was disappointed not to have gotten further in the process, but the fact I lost to the people I did, I can't stay mad at that. Those guys cooked their heart out and have exceptional talent. I respect each and every one of them.
Plus, 'MasterChef: The Professionals Semi Finalist 2018' does have quite a ring to it...thousands applied, 48 Chefs were selected, I was the last woman standing and one of the best eight. I can live with that.
Before entering the competition I knew that my speciality as it were, when it came to cooking, was my use of spices. I am a fan of all cultures and to me their use (or lack of use) when it came to spices is something that makes a culture ever more unique. After the show I looked back on all my highs and lows and looked at the dishes where my best feedback had been received. This moment of self reflection led me to believe that as much as I didn't want to confine myself to one thing, my skill was cooking from my roots and bringing a truly modern approach to the usually homely, Caribbean food. Iyoki recently was awarded a Michelin star to acknowledge its contribution to West African cuisine, the first in its category to do so, that gives me hope and inspiration for Caribbean food and I am more than willing to embark on this educating journey!
This new chapter in my career has so far been an exciting journey as I continue to look at ways to elevate Caribbean food to a fine dining level. I can honestly say that since Masterchef my food has come a long way and improved greatly! When I entered the competition my aim was to take on board all feedback received from all three of the judges whom I greatly respect. I wanted to use every bit of their feedback to improve my food and make it even better!
I hear their wise words as I plan and execute my dishes and use all I have learned to provide you with the best eating experience I can.
I thank Masterchef for my new outlook on Caribbean food. The show gave me the confidence and self belief to cook my own food, to go for it and believe in what I can do. Entering Masterchef was a fantastic experience, all the knots in my stomach and nerves were worth it, although perhaps I should get my husband back one day and apply for The Apprentice one year...see how he takes the pressure for a change...
Fancy joining us on our journey? We still have a handful of tickets left to next Month's event, why not book your seat and join us?