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MasterChef 2019 Chefs – Paula

This year, Paula takes on MasterChef cooking and competing through a variety of heats, quarter finals and knockouts until the ultimate winner is crowned. Gregg Wallace and John Torode judge the dishes being served – with all the action, tantrums, successes and burning disasters caught on camera. The winner goes away with a trophy and the prestige of being The MasterChef of the series.

Paula, aged 32 has a philosophy degree. Her husband is part Italian and they have a small yorkie called Alvin – who is adorable and loves food just as much. Paula started out as a fundraiser and has worked with various charities over the years but ended up working in the private sector, financial services and is currently a junior paraplanner.

We spoke to Chef Paula to find out more about her experience on the BBC1 show…

What was the reason in taking part in MasterChef?

I love cooking and have been a fan of the show for years. I thought it could be an amazing opportunity to expand further into the world of food and cookery.

 

Is there a way to handle the criticism from the judges?

I think what they really want is for you to listen and take what they’ve said on board. It’s not always possible to do this though because the challenges and what you’ve chosen to cook can be planned quite in advance. As one crew member told me ‘they’re only critiquing your food, not you!’

 

What is the atmosphere like in the kitchen cooking alongside other chefs?

I really liked everyone in my heats and we had a real laugh behind the scenes. The truth is when you are in that kitchen you are so focused on what you are doing that you don’t pay attention to what anyone else is doing!

 

What is your approach to the imagination and creation of your dishes?

I’ve watched cookery programme for years and have a lot of that knowledge ingrained in my brain! I’m Greek so I have a lot of influence from that too. My mum is a great cook and I watched her for years in the kitchen. My grandmothers could both cook too, though I could only take in snippets when we’d go to Cyprus on holidays.

 

What is your cooking style and what can people expect from your food?

I’m a real home cook and don’t make things too complicated at home. Don’t get me wrong, I make pasta from scratch and bake on the weekends and don’t really use any ready made sauces etc but I try to cook based on flavour and not fuss. I’m hugely influenced by Italian food and culture but I really make everything and anything if I think it’ll be tasty.

 

What was your greatest accomplishment during your time on MasterChef?

I got some really good comments on my pasta ad the poached pear which was lovely but I think just taking part  and working through the nerves was a high accomplishment.

 

Has there been downsides?

Not getting through to the quarter finals and not making my ballotine the way I know I can was really disappointing. Every feeling is quite intense in the MasterChef kitchen, good and bad!

 

Would there be anything you would change and would you recommend to a friend?

I wish I could’ve shown some of my Greek food. I was saving it for the quarter final brief but as I learned you should never hold anything back. I’d definitely recommend it to a friend and I’d also tell them to try to have fun and enjoy it!

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