Firstly I just want to say a huge congratulations to the 2010 Masterchef winner - well done Dhruv, you are an incredible cook! Secondly, I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss some of the great projects I've been involved in, since winning Masterchef back in 2007. A great deal of the experience I have gained and the projects I have worked on don't get publicised, as many of them have been works in progress, or subject to confidentiality. As I was omitted from the opening credits on last night's Masterchef show, I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about some of the great work I have accomplished over the past three years.
Following my win in 2007, I was offered an estage at the prestigious 3 Michelin starred Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. There I was taught focus, attention to detail, timing, patience and the art of flavour pairing. I had my eyes opened to a level of creativity I had not thought possible by food alone, and learnt how to balance sublime flavours, colours and textures within a dish. I was also very fortunate to have worked with some very talented chefs, and learnt how to work with some of the most exquisite ingredients I have ever seen pass through a kitchen's doors.
On my return to London, I was asked to be a Sous Chef on BBC's Great British Menu - and worked with many chefs with whose cooking I hold in very high esteem. These include Angela Hartnett, Tom Kitchin, and Sat Bains. Working with Angela was incredible; it was great to witness her speed, tenacity and effortless elegance that oozed from every dish she created. Being Tom's Sous when he created his English Breakfast starter was an experience I'll never forget - that dish was pure genius, and I learnt that you can create a silk purse from a pig's ear. Sat Bains I will remember for introducing me to the joys of the water bath, a missing bit of suckling piglet and chicken popcorn. Need I say more.
Post that hubris, I approached Shaun Hill who had just opened the Walnut Tree, and worked with him at his restaurant in Abergavenny. I love how Shaun cooks, and conceives such remarkable dishes, always with savoir faire. Shaun still is a mentor to me, and having met him recently at Fortnum and Mason, begged me never to stop cooking.
Other projects have included consulting to Sainsbury's on food trends, created menus for Jumeirah Hotels in Knightsbridge, been a brand ambassador for The Cooperative (and spent a summer on the road, cooking at 10 county shows across the UK out of a juggernaut-cum-demo kitchen), and developed recipes for Abel & Cole and Rachel's Organic. I have also been working with Slow Food London and the Southbank Centre, demonstrating and promoting fair and slow food ethics. I am also looking to collaborate with the Southbank this summer with a food and art project, celebrating Brazilian culture.
I spent the best part of last year traveling through Central America, gathering ideas and inspiration for food and life. This year I have started by focusing on my consultancy skills and am working as a as a flavour consultant - establishing savoury flavour trends for a global flavours and fragrance agency. I also partner with two holiday companies, providing gastronomy workshops, tours and holidays. These are www.frui.co.uk (chocolate workshops, tours to Borough and Billingsgate Market and forthcoming food trips to Barcelona and Brussels), and Tell Tale Holidays, www.telltaletravel.co.uk, where I will be the guide and escort on their forthcoming Tamarind and Spice tour across Thailand in November. I can't get enough of traveling it seems.
Most recently, I have been approached to work with the homeless charity Shelter, where I hope that my humble cooking can help raise awareness to the plight of London's homeless population. My final bit of news is that I have just been signed up as a consultant creative strategist at FutureBrand, where I work with a wonderful team of people who let me unleash my creativity to co-create products and ideas for some of the world's biggest brands. www.futurebrand.com
So, I haven't exactly fulfilled the Masterchef dream of opening a restaurant, but I have certainly made mine come true. I have had the pleasure of working with some incredible people over the past three years. I have no plans to open a restaurant at the moment, but I know I would like to at some point in the future, once I have got the traveling bug out of my system and have decided in which country I decide to settle.
So thank you Masterchef for all the incredible opportunities that you've opened up to me, and to all my wonderful friends, followers and supporters who have loved me no matter what.