MasterChef 2019 Chefs – Stephen Ford
March 7, 2019
This year, Stephen Ford 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.
Happily married with 5 kids Stephen loves creating dishes to cook for his family & is also a very keen musician/singer/songwriter. Day to day Stephen runs a team of business analysts in the UK for a large Global company called Sedgwick. As part of his role he manage’s an offshore team in India also. This has meant that Stephen has spent some time in India and sampled some outstanding food.
We spoke to Chef Stephen to find out more about his experience on the BBC1 show…
What was the reason in taking part in MasterChef?
I lost my dad and it was the catalyst to applying for the program. I wanted to tell the story of how my parents influenced what I do with food and as a longtime Masterchef fan, it just made sense for me to do that on such a great program. My father in particular introduced me to the flavours that I like to use the most. I love to use asian inspired as often as I can and these are the flavours that I know very well.
Is there a way to handle the criticism from the judges?
I entered into this with my eyes wide open. I knew I was putting myself out there to be criticised my people who are respected in the industry. The challenge ultimately becomes the driving force. You want to impress the judges so you push yourself harder than you would if you were cooking for friends or family.
What is the atmosphere like in the kitchen cooking alongside other chefs?
I liken it to sport, my favourite sport being rugby. A player prepares as best they can in the lead up to a game by practising as many scenarios as they can. It’s all about being ready for the match day. It’s the same when going into this kitchen, you have to rely on your preparation and be completely focused. You’re competing against some really talented cooks who all want the same thing, but if you dwell too much on that you are going to fail. You spend a lot of time together as a group and great friendships are born, but when the whistle goes it’s every cook for themselves!
I love the MasterChef kitchen. The pressure, the uncertainty all played out on prime time TV, there’s really nothing like it!
What is your approach to the imagination and creation of your dishes?
I am inspired by great produce, locally sourced and in season. I also always approach the ingredients with the utmost respect and want to do them justice. As I’m from Wales but my Nan was Scottish, I will often use ingredients that tell a story about my roots, but twist them with the influences I’ve mentioned.
What is your cooking style and what can people expect from your food?
It’s hard to talk about a cooking style because styles change and no one really wants to be pigeonholed. Quantifying expectation is far easier to explain though. I would hope you could expect great flavours that hit all your sense at once. I’d love it if people tell me they’ve not tried anything like it before and they loved it. That’s my food utopia!
What was your greatest accomplishment during your time on MasterChef?
I see getting through the opening round as my greatest accomplishment so far on the show. That was the first time I had cooked for anyone respected in the industry. I had great comments and it just lit a spark in me that ignited a desire for more of the same!
Has there been downsides?
I’m a very positive person so even a downside has an upside.
Would there be anything you would change and would you recommend to a friend?
I’d like if my sauce was a bit thicker in round one, then I’d have had the perfect start, but I wouldn’t change another thing.
This is singularly the best experience I have enjoyed without friends or family. Of course I have made friends along the way so that’s not technically true. I would however recommend it to anyone with an ability to cook.