MasterChef The Professionals 2018 has been quite a year for local talent. We have three chefs who have made it to the knockout stages! Tonic caught up with Louisa Ellis from The Wilderness to ask her a few questions about her experience so far on the show.
Why did you enter?
I entered MasterChef: The Professionals because I wanted to challenge myself as a young chef. I love a challenge and love learning. This was the best opportunity to grow myself and my career, not only as a chef but as a person.
How did the experience measure up to your expectations?
Overall the whole MasterChef experience was incredible. I knew it would be a challenge and oh my it was! If you are not prepared to be physically and mentally challenged then this is not for you! It challenges you in a good way, it helps you grow from your mistakes and builds your confidence when you get something right.
What did you learn in your Heat and Quarter Final?
When I walked into that room I was petrified but at the same time I felt so privileged to be there and I felt comfortable in my own skin when I got going as I knew if I was panicking the end result would be bad. The end result of my Skills Test in my opinion was not good. Silly mistakes really, I over cooked my pigeon. Cooking the pigeon on the crown is most definitely the best way to cook a pigeon and that is what I have learnt and will continue to do as a chef.
The Signature Dish was then my chance to make a statement and go back in with a fighting attitude – which worked as it received some very good comments which I’m very chuffed about. It taught me that having a positive attitude even after something hasn’t gone as planned is much better than being upset.
In the Invention Test. I chose to make something which I knew would work. It’s far too risky using ingredients you haven’t used before in an Invention Test, you have to know that the flavours will work and you have to find a balance. I wanted to cook for the critics so badly. I managed to please Marcus with one of the best chicken sauces he has ever tasted!
Finally the Critics! It was very hard producing 8 plates of food in 1 hour and 15 minutes. I felt the fish dish as my main course went down really well! All the little elements worked and I’m so happy to have got the feedback I did. However I’m not sure if I should have taken such a risk on the dessert with Sichuan buttons. It taught me that I should focus on certain elements rather than a handful. I will now go away and try to make this dish work because that’s the fun in being a chef, practice makes perfect. Whether it will work one day or not, I will still keep that passion and creativity flowing.
What advice would you give to young chefs starting their career?
My advice to young chefs starting out in their career would be to maintain drive and passion, even though sometimes you have to do tedious jobs in the kitchen that you don’t particularly enjoy! Be positive and be kind to yourself and others.
What is the best single piece of advice you have been given by a mentor?
My teachers used to always push me and always wanted the best for me, and I’m really grateful for that now looking back at it. The best advice I was given is never give up and carry on doing what you enjoy.
Credit: MasterChef: The Professionals, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8pm, BBC Two