Masterchef has come a long way since the days when Loyd Grossman presented the show back in 1990. In fact, the current format that we see on our TV screens has been running for ten years now and since then the public have been glued to their screens watching the contestants being put through their paces by hosts John Torode & Gregg Wallace. Each series has seen amateur chef and home cooks step up to the hotplate to in the hope that they can turn their cooking dreams into reality.
Over the years the show has seen a number of winners go onto achieve great things on the back of their success including Mat Follas, Dhruv Baker, James Nathan and Natalie Coleman. Between them, they have worked in some of the top restaurants in the UK, written a fair number of cook books, given numerous cookery demonstrations at events like the BBC Good Food Show and even launch their own restaurants. Perhaps one of the most successful winners to date is Thomasina Miers, the winner of Masterchef 2005, successfully launched the Mexican restaurant Wahaca which has since grown to eleven branches and two street kitchens.
Last year I was lucky enough to meet the most recent winner, Ping Coombes, when she was in Glasgow touring the country with Malaysian Kitchen. What made meeting Ping even better was getting the chance to thank her for taking the time out to answer 5 Questions for Gerry's Kitchen.
Recently I got chatting with Tim Anderson on Twitter. Tim won Masterchef 2011 when he became the youngest competitor to lift the Masterchef trophy. American born Tim spent two years living in Japan and his knowledge of all things Japanese wowed the judges when he served up his adventurous final menu which included monkfish liver served with umeboshi ketchup, jellied ponzu and matcha mayonnaise; Kyushu-style pork ramen with truffled lobster; and a cheddar cheesecake with whisky jelly.
Since winning the competition, Tim has had stints at Le Gavroche and The Fat Duck and has been an ambassador for Malaysian food. He's opened his own pop-up restaurant called Nanban, specialising in southern Japanese food, and is just about to launch his first cook book in the coming months.
Here's Tim's story;
How has your life changed since winning Masterchef?
For me, the best and most important change has been that I am now cooking for a living, in all sorts of ways I didn’t necessarily expect. Since MasterChef I have been able to work in restaurants, run pop-ups, cook street food, develop recipes, do some consulting, do cooking demos and classes, write a cookbook, and even brew a few beers. There have been a lot of odd jobs over the past four years and I have really loved the variety.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
I don’t really consider myself much of a businessman, so I’m not sure how helpful any of my advice could be. But I think one thing to always keep in mind is that you really need to take pride in what you do and be happy doing it. A lack of enthusiasm will always be reflected in your end product – you can’t expect customers to be excited about what you’re doing if you yourself aren’t.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
Ideally? I would like to have somehow accrued enough money to own homes in Tokyo, Los Angeles, London, and Hawaii. I would spend most of my time in Oahu selling simple seafood dishes from a beachside shack along with perfectly made Mai Tais and cold beer, without having to worry about actually turning a profit. Again: not much of a businessman.
If you could only cook one of your own recipes, what would it be & why?
Fried rice. It is simple to cook, always satisfying, and highly permutable. It is also an excellent vessel for hot sauce.
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
Well, I’d be a bit of a bastard if I didn’t invite my wife Laura, and I like her the best anyway, so I’ll say her. I’d have lobster mac and cheese to start – I love the versions they do at Hawksmoor and Bob Bob Ricard, so something like those. Then tonkotsu ramen with marinated egg, double chashu, pickled ginger, burnt garlic oil, spicy pickled mustard greens, and at least one kaedama. To finish I’d have cheese – good West Country Cheddar and something from the Alps or from Wisconsin. And good beer throughout – Hitachino Nest Japanese Classic Ale, Camden Brewery IHL, Wild Beer Shnoodlepip, and North Coast Old Rasputin should do it. Possibly a good whisky or shochu at the very end, but in general I’m pretty satisfied with beer.