A Foodie Childhood

My dad spoiled my brother and me with food. At weekends, he would invent fantastical dishes from cupboard staples. His favourite was potato wedges with thinly seared steak. He smothered it with melting cheese and Tabasco sauce. “In England…” he whispered, “they call this dish Elephant’s Ears”. Telling a story through cooking was his love language. This magic stayed with me.  

I became a part of the #bmFamily💜💚 in 2018. Before that, I’d worked in hotels and restaurants, but I found the work-life balance in Contract Catering to be better. Since making the switch, I have enjoyed every moment of it. When I was in Culinary School, my friends used to say that one had to work in Michelin-starred restaurants to make it worthwhile. I don’t subscribe to this. There is no single correct way to be a chef, and I wanted to find my path. 

Since joining BM, my culinary skills have improved tenfold. Sometimes, growth comes from being pushed out of your comfort zone. I had never considered competing or appearing on TV, but appearing on Masterchef was the challenge I was looking for. 

The Application Process

From the beginning, Director Angus Brydon was incredible. He saw something in me and encouraged me to push myself. He supported me through my first application in 2022. I didn’t make it through the interviews, but I wasn’t deterred. Executive Group Chef Russell Watt was by my side through the process. He offered to mentor me. His reassurance and support were irreplaceable.   

In 2023, I found the courage and decided to reapply to the competition.  The application process involved many stages, including writing about my homeland, detailing my cooking journey, and describing my food. I carefully selected the most delicious dishes from my photos and filmed myself explaining my style and experiences as a chef. I did my best to summarise my food and attached all the supporting files. After taking a deep breath, I clicked on the ‘send’ button. 

The Key is to Practise

After receiving the selection email, I took a moment to gather my thoughts. I was going to be on TV! 

Immediately, I knew I wanted to celebrate Sweden. The first thing that came to mind was Gubbröra. A light salad with eggs and maatjes herring, the flavours are bold and unmistakably Swedish. I have fond memories of sharing this at the Midsummer table. Most chefs fall back on seasonal ingredients. Don’t get me wrong. The first peas of the season and Spring lamb are delicious, but it’s important to show who you are.  

I told Russell, and he was brimming with excitement. He’d done his research and made a training plan away. We would tackle the skills test first. We both knew it required a mix of knowledge and the ability to keep a cool head.  

To train, Russell would leave a mystery ingredients box in the kitchen. He started the timer and tried to cause chaos in the kitchen. He asked questions, he opened doors, and he moved equipment around. Anything to infuriate me, but I remained calm. Neither of us knew what it would be like, but I wanted to succeed.  

There are around 2-3 weeks to prepare after the production team films you for the opening scenes. The MasterChef kitchen is not a professional kitchen and uses a domestic oven. I practised my dish over and over, but it was demanding. There’s a short time to prepare, and you also manage your kitchen.  

The Skills Test

I felt calm in the weeks leading up to the competition. My dishes were strong and practised. Waiting to begin the Skills Test, nerves crept in. The production crew escorts you to where you need to be and ensure you eat and drink. They do their best to take your mind off it, but there is plenty of time to second guess. We filmed from 7 am to 7 pm. I’ve been cooking for over a decade, but still, my emotions were drained during the Skills Test.  

I had tunnel vision. I only saw what was in front of me. The judges asked questions, and I tried to be light-hearted and have fun. It was a high-pressure environment.  

Signature Dish

The Skills Test was nerve-racking, but I was confident about my Signature Dish. I had a clear vision and planned how it would taste. In your kitchen, you know where every pot or pan is. You know how hot your oven is and what ingredients will be delivered. MasterChef’s kitchen is challenging!  

There is a domestic oven with varying temperature and induction that might cut out. The production team provides clean equipment and assistance where possible, but a lot is happening. There is no guarantee that your requested ingredients will be on your bench. It’s important to note that even if you use the same type of product, it may taste different depending on the brand. This difference in taste can be the deciding factor between a successful or unsuccessful dish. Unfortunately, there is no time to experiment with flavours during the competition until you present your dish to the judges. Practising with different ingredients than what you usually use before, is invaluable. Ask another chef to order for you and see how the taste of the dish changes. Remember, there are many variables in the MasterChef kitchen, and no matter how skilled you are, you can never predict what challenges you may face. 

So, you want to be on MasterChef?  

I left the competition feeling disappointed but also proud. I had the opportunity to showcase my skills on national TV, which was an incredible accomplishment. Throughout the competition, BM helped me grow as a chef. I learned that even if you are confident in your dish, it’s crucial to practice and perfect it under stressful conditions. Try using different ingredients and practice cooking in different kitchens to see how your dish changes in each environment. It’ll surprise you how much the flavour changes with different seasonings. Improvisation is essential. To be a MasterChef, you must transform what is around you into something magical.  

What’s Next?

For now, I am where I am meant to be. I have found my way to be a chef. BM has offered me fantastic opportunities to develop and learn. I enjoy exceptional food, a fulfilling career, and a work-life balance. MasterChef was an incredible experience, and I would encourage any chef to apply. Facing what seems impossible is growth, and I am confident in my ability and skills. 

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