This year, Oliver Martin takes on Masterchef: The Professionals, cooking and competing through a variety of heats, quarter finals and knockouts until the ultimate winner is crowned. Greg Wallace, Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti 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 Professional Masterchef of the series.
Oliver is currently head chef at Hipping Hall in Lancashire, where it boarders onto the countries of Yorkshire and Cumbria so it’s quite a ‘unicorn’ location. Chef has been working here for the past 5 years, before that he spent time working in Australia, Gilpin, France and Northcote Manor.
We spoke to Chef Oliver to find out more about her experience on the BBC2 show…
What was the reason in taking part on Masterchef?
Id reached a stage in my career where i want to find different ways of pushing myself, and the competition felt like the right environment to do that, id never entered a cooking competition before and i think i chose the right one.
Is there a way to handle the criticism from the judges?
You go through your career receiving criticism or praise, its rarely as direct or honest as what you receive on the show from such renowned people, so you have to take everything on board and really makes you reassess your dishes.
What is the atmosphere like in the kitchen cooking alongside other chefs?
I made some great friends whilst cooking on the show, and its always sad when someone has to leave, even though its a cooking competition everyone is kinda routing for each other aswell.. i wasnt expecting that!
What is your approach to the imagination & creation of your dishes?
I think I have my own style and it is very natural and rustic, leaving flavours to speak for themselves and avoiding over complicating dishes, the dishes I serve in the restaurant are a lot more stripped back then what’s on the show as we only serve a 12 course tasting menu in the restaurant we can’t be over complicating dishes with too many elements and flavours.
What is your cooking style and what can people expect from the food on your menu?
We cook hype seasonally, locally and taking care to our environment, we keep the menu to native British ingredients occasionally using the odd imported one to highlight and complement our food but never to dominate it. You wont find chocolate, exotic fruits, spices etc.. on our menu. We try use as much heritage/forgotten variety of vegetables as we can, and enjoy plenty of foraging!
What has been your greatest accomplishment during your time on Masterchef so far?
I think getting on to the show was an accomplishment in itself and really just enjoyed my time on there!
Has there been any down sides during your time on Masterchef so far?
Its hardwork trying to keep up your normal life and take part in the competition, it truly does take over, my fiance was 7 months pregnant at the time and still had to finish decorating the house before the baby was born, but fitting in a full time job, practicing competition dishes, travelling up and down the country and meeting the strict deadlines was hardwork to try and balance! It was all worth while though!
Would there be anything you would change so far and would you recommend to a friend?
At the moment… the answer would be No.. Just because i get the most enjoyment when im cooking at my workplace, its not a competition there, we are all working together towards the same common goal, we find different ways of pushing ourselves and we are always looking at how we can improve. This was my first competition, and maybe my last… but if im asked again in 6 months time, i might change me mind.