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Sunday, 30 August 2015

5 Questions - Simon Wood, Masterchef Winner 2015

It's no surprise to you all that I love Masterchef. This year seen the show return for its tenth year with co-hosts John Torode and Gregg Wallace once again putting amateur chefs and home cooks into situations that they could only dream of, in the hope that they can carve out a new career doing something that they love.
Each year I try to pick out one or two of the contestants and follow them throughout the process, and this year there were three or four who caught my attention. As the competition became hugely competitive, Simon Wood, Tony Rodd and Emma Spitzer managed keep their cool and serve up consistently good food before reaching the final where they had to cook for The Chef's Table. I can't imagine how nerve-wracking it must have been to cook for Marcus Wareing, Andrew Fairlie, Daniel Clifford, Anthony Demetre, and renowned Italian chef Francesco Mazzei, who between them have eight Michelin stars.

Thanks to social media, fans of the show are able to throw their support behind their favourite contestants, with some of the amateur cooks taking the time out to interact with fans whilst the TV show is on air. I had picked Simon Wood out at the early stages as someone to watch and as the show reached the final, Simon held his nerves to be crowned Masterchef 2015 winner by John and Gregg.
I have been lucky enough to have had previous winners Ping Coombes and Tim Anderson take time out to answer 5 Questions, and I'm please to add Simon to this illustrious list.
Here's Simon's story;
What do you hope to do with your career after Masterchef has ended?
Simply put, my dream has always been to cook, and to make people happy with my food! My focus currently is with The Oldham Event Centre at Oldham Athletic where I am now their executive chef, which I'm really excited about. We will be holding Fine Dining events where people can sample my food, with the first coming up on the 30th October. I will also be holding regular cookery schools there – for more info and to register interest visit http://oldhameventcentre.co.uk/ or call on 0161 785 5185
What was your favourite challenge on the show?
There were so so many that I thoroughly enjoyed, but my absolute favourite had to be cooking the special 50th anniversary celebration lunch for The Red Arrows in Lincolnshire during the Semi Finals. It was a great day and a complete privilege, and of course, I lead the Blue Team to victory so that was an enormous bonus!
What is the biggest thing that you learnt about yourself over the process?
I would have to say it's that in the face of adversity I rise to the challenge and perform at my best. This is a quality I want to take into my own professional kitchen and something that will, I hope, help it to be a great success.

If you could only cook one of the recipes that you cooked over the MasterChef process, what would it be & why?
It would be my Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Sage butter and Panne Gratatta – it's jam packed full of flavour, and very inexpensive and easy to make.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
This is a tough one, but it would have to be my Dad, just so he can see that I finally achieved what I had always wanted to do. The menu would be a really simple one - an omelette to start (as he taught me to make them), followed by a really good steak, and to finish my favourite dessert, Tiramisu.

Simon went into the competition with hopes of cooking like and ultimately becoming a professional chef and since being crowned Masterchef 2015 champion, he's well on the way to fulfilling his dreams. Having recently taken the Executive Chef role at Oldham Athletic Football Club where he has developed a 'Simon Wood Menu' which will launch very soon. Diners at Oldham Event Centre can enjoy three new menus throughout the year and bi-monthly Simon will be creating bespoke menus for food lovers to enjoy in 'Dining with Simon Wood'.
In addition to his Executive Chef gig, Simon is currently writing recipes for his first cook book, honing his skills by getting more practice in some of the top kitchens in the UK, making appearances at various corporate events and is also available for private dining too. It has been non stop since the final was aired back in April so I would like to thank Simon for taking taking out of his hectic schedule to answer 5 Questions and wish him every success in following his dream.
Find out more about Simon and his private dining availability on www.simonwoodcooks.com or for his Oldham Events log onto www.oldhameventcentre.co.uk
Keep up with Simon on Facebook and Twitter.



Written by Gerry Haughian Written by Gerry Haughian

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