|Masterchef Winner Visits Chiswick|
Finalists answer questions on Christmas cooking and favourite foods
Masterchef winner Ash Mair visited Chiswick with his co-finalists only hours after winning the BBC2 competition, and revealed that he has enjoyed meals in one of W4’s top restaurants.
The 34-year old, originally from Australia, but now living in Barnes, joined Claire Hutchings (22) and Steve Barringer(25) at Chiswick-based PR company Plank, to have an on-line chat with fans and answer questions ranging from Christmas recipe tips, to being quizzed about their favourite foods.
“I love coming to Chiswick and my girlfriend and myself can easily come along the river from Barnes. I’ve had some good meals in La Trompette - easily the best place in this area” commented the Tasmanian-born chef, who was crowned winner of Masterchef: The Professionals for his three-course meal of monkfish, lamb, and Spanish bread and butter pudding.
The three finalists were looking remarkably fresh after the six-week competition which pushed them to their culinary limits. The closely-contested final, which aired to more than three million viewers on BBC2 Thursday (December 15th) was judged by double-Michelin starred chef Michelle Roux Jr and food writer Greg Wallace.
Roux Jr. described winner Mair, who works for a catering company, as “ a supreme talent”, while Wallace said Ash had given him some of the best food he had ever tasted . The young chef becomes the fourth winner of Masterchef: The Professionals and apart from a brief cookery course when he was 19, considers himself to be self-taught.
The three young chefs are now having to cope with the instant stardom that accompanies television exposure on the cookery show. Friend requests to Mair’s Facebook reached 200 almost immediately after his win was announced, while all three have now increased their Twitter following by hundreds.
Previous rounds of the competition saw contestants travel to Spain’s El Cellar De Can Roca which was second in the World’s Best Awards this year, and design and prepare a course each for over 30 world-renowned and Michelin-starred chefs including Albert Roux, Brett Graham, Nathan Outlaw and Sat Baines.
First up for all three is a well-earned rest over Christmas while they ponder their futures as professional chefs and discuss the offers that are rolling in . Ash Mair will spend Christmas in Spain with his girlfriend- he has cited the influence of the Basque region as central to his work. He also credited his mother with inspiring his love of fresh, seasonal produce, as she grows vegetables and salads in the family garden.
“I was thrown in at the deep end when I went to work in a restaurant. I had to learn several jobs at once but my love of cooking really helped me survive and I always put the emphasis on the small local producer”. His passion for food motivated him to leave his homeland and travel to France and Spain to learn about regional cooking, and he praised chef Rick Stein- who is an investor in Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick, as one of his favourite cooks.
Mair said he prefers simple cooking to the elaborate over-fussy offering of some restaurants. At the end of the day you have to remember you are feeding people, he commented .
Claire Hutchings, who studied Culinary Arts Management in Birmingham, will have a Christmas with her extended family - and she won’t be doing the cooking, while Steve Barringer (25) who has worked in Devon, is taking his first Christmas off in fifteen years.
All three told ChiswickW4.com that they learned to cook from a young age and were concerned that the younger generation might grow up only eating convenience foods , although they acknowledged that supermarket meals had improved in recent years .
And when it comes to comfort food their answers were surprisingly unexpected; “Hot Dogs” said the Masterchef Professional 2011 winner Mair; “chocolate” said Claire, while Steve Barringer favoured “scrambled eggs on toast”.
Mair’s winning Masterchef menu: