You know what they say, when one door closes another one opens. The same can be said of MasterChef, as the professional competition replaces the celebrity edition once again. It’s the perfect winter warmer as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder: a brand new batch of hopeful chefs, vying for the top spot. The hit programme, which is in its 15th year, follows a similar format to previous series, with a new group of professional chefs faced with various challenges.
One major change for 2023 is the return of iconic judge and mentor Monica Galetti. Fondly known as 'Scary Monica' by fans of the show, Galetti is beloved for her no-nonsense approach to the judging. After 14 years on the show, Galetti took a step back last year to focus on her family and restaurant, Mere. After a year out, she's back and raring to go alongside regular judges Gregg Wallace and Marcus Wareing. Michel Roux Jr, chef patron of Le Gavroche, was also previously a judge on the show, although departed in 2014 with Wareing taking his place.
The show has always followed a similar structure, with 32 chefs split into heats to start with. Subsequent challenges typically include cooking for critics or guest chefs, mass catering tests, invention trials, service in a top restaurant and a chef’s table. By the final week, there are only four contestants left, who battle it out for the title of the series champion. While there isn’t actually a prize per se, winners of this prestigious competition are often catapulted into stardom. Winners often go on to work in top restaurants, write cookbooks or even open their own restaurants.
So, read on to get your fill. Below you’ll find all the information your need to enjoy Masterchef: The Professionals 2023. We’ll be regularly updating the guide throughout the season, so be sure to check back for more info as we go.
SKIP TO THE BEST SECTION FOR YOU
When is the MasterChef: The Professionals 2023 final?
MasterChef: The Professionals 2023 final episodes will air from Wednesday 6th - Friday 8th December with an episode each night at 8pm on BBC One.
Who are the judges?
Monica Galetti is returning to MasterChef: The Professionals this year, after stepping down last year. As usual, Monica will be joined by Marcus Wareing and Gregg Wallace.
Who are the MasterChef: The Professionals contestants?
This year, 32 up-and-coming chefs battle it out across the next six weeks as they compete to become the 2023 MasterChef: The Professionals Champion. Read on to meet this year's contestants.
Heat One, Week One
Hailing from Mallaig in the Scottish Highlands, Cameron works as the head chef at his family-run restaurant. Having trained under Donald Mclean and Gary Philips, as well as completing stages at The Kitchin and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Cameron hopes that MasterChef: The Professionals will be the next challenge to help him grow and evolve as a chef. Taking inspiration from his surroundings, he loves using the fresh and local produce delivered to his doorstep. Family is his main priority. When he’s not busy working at the restaurant with his mum and brother, he’s at home spending time with his son.
Born in Limerick, and now working in New Forest, Hampshire, cooking is in Dara’s blood. Inspired by his dad, who worked in the industry for over 50 years, it was inevitable that Dara would continue in his father’s footsteps. With a love for fine-dining, he couples this with a passion for foraging and using the ingredients of the area. Dara is a huge sports fan and loves watching Rugby with his mates, finding it a great way to socialise whenever he has a free moment out of the kitchen.
Originally from Sweden, Catrin trained in Culinary Arts and Meal Science before moving to London where she now works as head chef of Bartlett Mitchell caterers. Coming from a family of foodies, Catrin remembers growing up and cooking with her father and grandmother. Catrin implements her classic training techniques in her work and likes to put a focus on creating fine-dining menus for her clients. A running and cycling fanatic, Catrin loves to exercise, finding that it’s a great way to clear her head after a long day in the kitchen!
Chef de Partie at a private members club in Mayfair, Himanshu first started cooking at age 8. Having grown up in New Delhi and trained at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, he uses his classic French technique in combination with his love and knowledge of Indian flavours. With a real passion for travelling, Himanshu’s dream is to travel around all the regions of India - seeing the sites and sampling all of the cuisine as he goes!
Heat Two, Week One
Unsure what to do with his life, Tommy ended up as a kitchen porter which sparked a love for food at age 16. Now working as a head chef in Weston-super-Mare, Tommy has spent the last ten years working across a number of award winning restaurants including Frog by Adam Handling. Tommy loves the magic and the buzz of the kitchen and enjoys trying new things as he works on finding his style. A big family man, Tommy spends any spare time with his son and loves to take him for walks, out to restaurants and even has him cooking at home!
Having worked as an accountant for 20 years in North Eastern Brazil, Cristina took a plunge and moved to London where she retrained as a chef. Growing up around food and influenced by the Brazilian flavours of her childhood, Cristina knew that she wanted to do something different with her life and develop her passion for food. A combination of classic training and South American influences, she loves developing new dishes at home as well as going to taste food at new restaurants, food markets and, of course, the classic English pub!
Unfortunately, due to a nasty burn whilst cooking her signature dish, Cristina had to withdraw from the competition.
Now running The Fig Cafe in Rye, Rosie’s food journey began during her childhood. Having grown up on a farm, she was surrounded by animals and produce and completed a cooking course at age 18 before heading to Leeds University to go and study Fine Arts. It was during her time as a chef in the French Alps that she fell in love with cooking and never looked back. With a passion for feel-good foods inspired by her travels, Rosie loves nothing more than a Sunday lunch surrounded by all her nearest and dearest, including her 3 year-old son.
Whilst waiting to enrol in the police at age 14, Charlie stumbled into a local kitchen and never left. Undeterred by the long hours, he completed his training and then went on to work across various establishments such as The Mariners by Paul Ainsworth. Now working as a head chef in Cornwall, Charlie loves to take a simple dish and cook it to perfection and dreams of one day running his own hotel and farm where everything is grown onsite! Outside the kitchen, Charlie has a real competitive streak and loves activities such as Go Karting.
Heat One, Week Two
Originally from Newport, Wales, Ieuan now works as a sous chef at The Castle Inn in Chippenham, having worked his way up in high end pub restaurants for the past ten years. Having completed his training at Crosskeys College and University College Birmingham, he started cooking from a young age and taught himself the skills by watching TV shows whilst his parents were out at work. A true lover of Pubs, Ieuan wants to take this type of food one step further and make art with his modern British styles. He loves trying big and bold flavours and is not afraid to take a few risks. Outside of the kitchen, he loves foraging, swimming and Rugby!
Street-food business owner James, took a bit of a career change after finishing his degree in Politics and Sociology from Loughborough University. Ending up working as a chalet chef one winter then for a catering company the following summer, he’s seen his fair share of establishments over the years. Wanting something a bit different, James now runs his own street-food business revolving around loaded hash browns - yum! - and likes to bring his own flair to his cooking, finding inspiration from the flavours of his travels. In his free time, James loves to get out his surfboard or his skis, feeling just as much at home in the mountains as he does in the kitchen!
Born in South Nigeria, Ola completed his first job at the United Nations Restaurant in Nigeria! Growing up the youngest of seven, he was always hungry and found passion in the kitchen where he ended up cooking for everyone and learning as he went. Having moved to the UK 13 years ago, he has worked across a number of venues, including Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden, and now works as the head chef at a large catering firm. Cooking with a style that embodies his Nigerian Heritage, Ola just wants to continue to learn and show that he can cook delicious and elegant food. Ola loves spending time with his two kids and will often be found writing songs or singing in the kitchen - the perfect way to calm his nerves.
Born in the Isle of Man, but growing up in Belfast, Jeany works as a senior sous-chef at a fine-dining themed restaurant in Belfast. Having always been fascinated by food and different ingredients, she spent a lot of time in the kitchen with her mum and was even given cookbooks every Christmas! Inspired by her Irish roots, Jeany just loves working with fun and unique food and trying to make it look as elegant as possible. When she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her outdoors! From walking her dog to hiking with friends, Jeany loves all things nature.
Heat Two, Week Two
Based in Leeds, Molly started working in a French bistro aged only 12! Stemming from a desire to cook tasty meals for her mum, who was always working, Molly taught herself the basics knowing that her natural talent was something she wanted to continue to explore. After classically training across various establishments, it was during lockdown that Molly and her partner Charlotte decided to set up their own private catering business. With a focus on putting her own twist on the meals and making her food accessible, Molly sees cooking not just as a career, but as a way of life. A big football fan, she supports Leeds United and loves watching them play in her free time.
Chef de Partie, Evelina, grew up in Lithuania, before moving to Scotland where she started her career as a chef, completing her training and working across various Michelin kitchens such as Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles Hotel. Surrounded by nature, she spent her childhood foraging in the forests or catching crayfish with her parents, sparking a creativity and joy for experimenting that she shows off in her dishes. Despite her classic training, Evelina is still searching for her style and hopes that MasterChef: The Professionals will help her find it. Outside the kitchen, Evelina loves hiking through the Scottish Mountains, as well as swapping out her kitchen utensils for paintbrushes!
With 11 years experience working in the industry, Lauren now works for a catering company in London. Having applied to study law at university, she decided at the last minute that this wasn’t what she wanted for her future and instead went on to train at Westminster Kingsway College. Taking inspiration from her Jamaican heritage, she loves to use big flavours and lots of spices in her cooking, having learnt all the basics from her dad and sister when she was younger. Always on the hunt for family run restaurants serving authentic flavours, Lauren loves going out to eat, never getting sick of that restaurant environment!
Originally from Venezuela, Joaquin fell into the world of cuisine aged 10 when he first started cooking with his mum. Having worked in two of Venezuela’s most prestigious restaurants, he then moved to the UK where he now works at Club Gascon in London. Passionate about sharing his creations and bringing joy to others, Joaquin’s style is a real mix with influences from his Venezuelan and Italian heritage, alongside experience working in both Spanish and French restaurants. When he’s not in the kitchen, Joaquin loves being social! A real party lover he’s always organising get-togethers with friends or competing in sports such as squash and football.
Heat One, Week Three
Private Chef Philippe was born and raised in Paris where he worked for a decade and trained at various eateries, including Michelin-starred kitchens, before making the move to London. Spending hours in the kitchen with his mum really helped to teach him the essentials and Philippe loves nothing more than using his French techniques combined with Beninese ingredients. He loves exploring the city with his friends and sees London as a great place to experiment with new flavours and food.
Hailing from the Isle of Skye, Verity stumbled into cooking when she was asked to help a friend out in a local pub and the rest is history! Learning on the job, Verity also completed a stage at Inver, and now runs her own catering business using lots of inspiration from her landscape and the local and wild produce. A real nature lover, you’ll often find Verity outdoors where she’ll be out foraging, camping and making fires - the perfect, cosy environment for her to sit down and read a good book.
Supported by the owner of a local cafe, who saw his potential, Dan headed off to the catering college where his story begins. His passion was further ignited during a move to Australia where he worked for a year before coming back home and working across the country at Michelin-starred restaurants such as Raby Hunt and The Latymer. Now working as a senior sous chef at a boutique hotel in Norfolk, Dan loves to be creative, taking the classic fine-dining techniques he has learnt and combining them with some modern and rustic touches. Dan spends as much time in tattoo parlours as he does in the kitchen - with two full sleeves and even a Cornish pasty tattoo!
Originally from Ukraine, sous chef Dimi had big dreams of running his own business and worked for years up in the cleaning industry before making a u-turn and kicking off his career at culinary school. Having completed a couple of years in France, he moved to the UK two years ago where he now works at Kricket. With a combination of classic training and Ukrainian flavours, Dimi loves to show off the culinary traditions of his home in his cooking. An extreme sports fanatic, outside of the kitchen you’ll find Dimi in the water where he'll be wakeboarding or surfing!
Heat Two, Week Three
Private Chef Gabrielle started off her career as a chalet chef in the French Alps before sailing off around the world whilst working on superyachts. Used to being confined to whatever local ingredients she could find in the area, Gabrielle’s style really embodies the different flavours that she has picked up from her worldwide travels. Having grown up in a single parent household, her mum taught her to cook from a young age and she never really stopped! She loves to be active and spends most of her free time sailing - of course - as well as training to compete in her first triathlon later this year.
Originally from Australia, Kasae works in Bath as the head chef of Robun, a contemporary Japanese restaurant. Stumbling into the kitchen one night, to cover for a colleague who was on holiday, she never left! Having completed her training before beginning to travel around the world, Kasae has worked in kitchens in Australia, Sweden, New Zealand and now the UK. With a refined and playful style that now features a lot of Japanese influence, Kasae is just excited to get back into the world of cooking competitions - she loves a challenge and what better challenge than MasterChef: The Professionals? Swapping out her chef whites for running gear, she’s currently training for a half marathon and spends most of her free time running.
Growing up in Malta, Giovann learnt to cook in his family kitchen where he would watch his mum and grandma cook. Having lived on a farm throughout his childhood, he was surrounded by animals and fresh produce - even helping his dad to make cheese and honey. Now working at Norma, a Sicilian-inspired restaurant in London, Giovann hopes that MasterChef, The Professionals will be the perfect next step to challenge him and push his creative boundaries as a chef. When he’s not in the kitchen, Giovann will be out running, having completed four marathons and countless other races, or hosting dinner parties for his friends - a night that’s guaranteed to be filled with lots of negronis!
Sous Chef Kyle’s passion for food started through classic British cooking shows including MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook. Having worked across a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, he’s completed stages at The Fat Duck, Maidenhead and House of Tides in Newcastle where he really developed his skills. Loving the escape that food gives him, Kyle just loves the creativity of the kitchen and chooses to put a more relaxed spin on classic fine dining. Having won North East Chef of the year he wants to take it one step further! A big football fan, he loves to spend his free time going to watch Newcastle games or spending time with his wife and seven year-old daughter.
Heat One, Week Four
Chef Patron Ayesha grew up in North Wales and now runs her own restaurant, Queen of Cups, in Glastonbury. With aspirations of being a war correspondent, Ayesha realised half way through her degree that she wanted something else out of life and went on to retrain at culinary school. Since then she has completed time at The Palomar in London, as well as Michelin-starred Sosban & The Old Butchers in Wales. Having grown up as a foodie, she uses her classic French techniques alongside inspiration from her Middle Eastern heritage in her cooking - a slightly unconventional style that represents who she is as a person. Ayesha loves to read and travel the world in order to try new cuisines. Food really is her number one passion.
Cecily ended up cooking during a ski season after university where she originally went to study Environmental Science. Becoming a chef happened naturally after that, and she began to develop her passion for food. Cecily ended up working in Japan before moving to London where she now works as a freelance private chef. She creates all the menu herself and enjoys the free-reign this allows her as she pushes herself to be the best that she can be. With a love of skiing and travelling, she spends a lot of her time volunteering and running community kitchens to help support asylum seekers and refugees.
Hailing from St Vincent and the Grenadines, in the Caribbean, Casrick grew up cooking with his family. He was inspired by the fresh and local flavours of the area - especially the crayfish and whelks that they would catch from the nearby river and barbecue with the neighbourhood. It was a complete coincidence that he ended up in a kitchen, having started off working in construction, but the rest, as they say, is history. Casrick worked across the Caribbean before moving on to Canada and finally ending up in the UK where he now works as a junior sous chef at Kitchen W8 in London. Casrick dreams of one day owning his own farm-to-table restaurant with his wife and loves playing football, in his free time, as well as creating art.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Simon always knew that one day he wanted to be a chef. He started working as a kitchen porter when he was just 16, then went on to study cookery before working his way across various high-end hotels where he honed his skills. Inspired by the big and bold flavours from his Portuguese heritage, he loves sharing this side of him in his cooking and aims for his food to look as refined as possible. Only now plucking up the courage to apply to MasterChef: The Professionals - after three previous attempts - he’s ready to show his skills to the judges. Simon loves gaming or walking his dogs whenever he has a free moment outside of the kitchen.
Heat Two, Week Four
Having grown up in rural Norfolk on a farm, Tristan was inspired by the fresh and local ingredients on his doorstep - from harvesting potatoes to foraging for wild garlic and flowers. Tristan trained at Le Cordon Bleu and has completed stages at various Michelin-starred restaurants. He now works as a private chef, and cooks food across the world for a variety of clients. He loves to be experimental with his flavours, but you won’t find any dairy in his dishes - due to a serious allergy! A wine enthusiast, he spends his free time making his own as well as playing and watching almost any sport he can.
Chef Patron Lindsay grew up near Edinburgh before moving to the North East of England. Having completed his professional training at Dundee College he went on to work across various restaurants before moving to Newcastle where he worked at the Michelin-starred House of Tides. Having started to do takeaway Sunday lunches during lockdown, before going on to set up his own popup and then his own restaurant. Lindsay has a rather creative style and tries to avoid the ‘obvious dishes’ in order to come up with dishes that he’s never seen before. Outside of the kitchen, Lindsay spends all his free time looking after his newborn baby - as well as exercising whenever he gets the chance.
Cooking is in Tom’s blood! Growing up with an executive chef for a dad and a pastry chef for a mum, it was inevitable that his love and passion for food would culminate in a cooking career. Having trained at Westminster Kingsway College he went on to work in various kitchens including The Latymer at Pennyhill Park and now works at Camellia where he works alongside both his parents. When he has a spare moment Tom loves to play golf or go to the gym and even brews his own Kombucha.
Originally from Taiwan, I-Lin works as a chef de partie at Holborn Dining Room in London. Having originally studied Medicine and Cancer Research, she then made a drastic change and moved to London to study at Le Cordon Bleu after discovering a passion for cooking and baking. Bringing her classic French techniques and her Taiwanese influence to her dishes, I-Lin loves to explore with different textures and flavours. Outside of the kitchen she loves music and plays the marimba and drum. She also has her own social media accounts where she loves to share her dishes and show off her photography skills.
Which contestants are going through to knockout week?
Over the past four weeks, 32 chefs have fought to maintain their places in MasterChef: The Professionals. They’ve completed skills tests, invention tests and developed signature dishes for the judges and various critics. Only 12 are heading through to knockout week where they will continue to showcase their talents.
Those contestants are: Tommy, Charlie, Rosie, James, Lauren, Molly, Kyle, Kasae, Philippe, Tom, Tristan and Cecily.
What happened in knockout week?
With only 12 chefs remaining in the competition, this week was all about setting themselves apart from the others and proving to the judges that they deserve a place in the semi-finals.
Monday’s episode started off with a classic MasterChef inventions test - a challenge inspired by fresh market produce where the chefs were required to choose from a selection of fresh items and quickly design and execute a showstopping dish that would impress Gregg, Marcus and Monica.
With dishes featuring trout, venison and celeriac – the chefs came up with some incredibly inventive cuisine, although some stood out above the rest. Philippe’s dish of parsley and garlic stuffed pork loin wowed the judges with its beautiful and delicate flavours. Whilst elements of Kyle’s miso glazed celeriac were described by Marcus as ‘a little bit of genius.’
The top seven went straight through and the remaining five - Molly, Tristan, Kasae, Rosie and James - were required to stay and fight for their place in the competition.
Following the collection of savoury dishes created in the first round, the judges posed a challenge that had the five cooking up a dessert as they fought for only three remaining places in the competition.
Unfortunately, it was Tristan and Rosie who just didn’t quite meet the standard of the others. Rosie’s baked chocolate mousse tart lacked the level of refinement that the judges expected at this stage of the competition whilst Tristan’s profiteroles were soggy and lacking flavour.
On Tuesday, the group was split into two teams and sent to compete outside of the MasterChef kitchen for the first time. The first five - James, Tommy, Charlie, Molly and Lauren were set the challenge of creating a dish for the MasterChef pop-up restaurant. It was a completely different atmosphere to what the chefs had been used and they would be serving their dish to 25 of the UKs top chefs and pop-up entrepreneurs.
Jame’s reinvented prawn toast came out on top and he thoroughly impressed the critics with his jalapeno and gochujang prawn wrapped in crispy filo pastry and served with a katsu sauce and seaweed relish. It was the creativity of the dish, combining Korean and Japanese ingredients, along with the punchy seafood flavour that earned him an automatic place in the semi-finals.
The remaining four were then given a brief by the judges that required them to serve their last dish on Earth. Unfortunately, the judges felt that Molly’s dish was just a bit lacking. Her take on an Irish chowder with prawns and steamed mussels in a mussel veloute just didn’t pack the seafood flavour that was expected by the judges.
On Thursday, the second group, consisting of Phillipe, Kyle, Kasae, Tom and Cecily, was also sent to the MasterChef pop-up kitchen to test their abilities in a completely new environment and to impress the critics with their dishes.
It was Philippe’s dish that received rave reviews from the critics and earnt him that automatic place in the semi final. Inspired by his West African heritage, Philippe created a yovo doko (a traditional Benin doughnut) served with mascarpone cream, papaya, ginger and lemongrass jam and topped with French meringue. The critics loved the combination of flavours and how they all came together to create a perfect balance, with Marcus describing the dish as ‘sensational.’
The remaining four then took on the same challenge to cook up their last dish on Earth. With only three places left in the semi-final, the pressure was on. Kasae’s lemon parfait really stood out to the judges, getting Marcus’ stamp of approval as he called it ‘a point of genius.’ Today, however, it was Cecily’s turn to leave the competition. Her fried chicken wing stuffed with a chicken and chipotle mousse just fell a bit flat with certain elements of the plate getting lost amongst the other flavours.
Which contestants are going through to the semi-finals?
The judges have whittled down the chefs once again and now only eight remain as they take on the challenges in the final week of MasterChef: The Professionals.
Those contestants are: Tommy, Charlie, James, Lauren, Kyle, Kasae, Philippe and Tom.
What happened in the semi-finals?
As the competition nears an end, the remaining eight contestants were determined to prove themselves worthy of a place in the final.
Monday's episode started in the MasterChef kitchen, with a brief surrounding two of the most important ingredients - salt and pepper. The chefs could use these flavours however they wanted with just under two hours to serve up either a sweet or savoury dish.
With a collection of creativity, there were two stand outs for the judges and Tom and Kasae sailed straight through to Tuesday's episode. Despite a minor explosion with Tom's first attempt at a filling, he went on to present the judges with a pink peppercorn chocolate tart served in a black pepper pastry. The judges thought it was exceptional with Monica describing the dish as 'a real sense of childhood fun'. Kasae, on the other hand, wowed the judges with her deconstructed cheese board featuring a gorgonzola mousse with caramelised Batak pepper apple and a ginger and timut pepper bread. Despite hating Gorgonzola, Marcus admitted that it was a truly delicious dish.
They were joined by Tommy and James whilst the remaining four were left to cook again.
The next challenge set by the judges was to create an entirely plant-based dish. Unfortunately, there wasn't room for all four chefs to continue to the next round and it was Kyle and Philippe whose time in the competition finally came to an end. Philippe's crispy cassava fries with coconut milk, lemongrass and plantain puree was described by the judges as a collection of delightful flavours but Marcus and Gregg both agreed that it didn’t work as a cohesive plate of food. Meanwhile, Kyle's wild mushroom veloute with king oyster mushroom and a vegan bechamel and black truffle toastie was described as delightfully creamy but over seasoned and a bit dense.
Tuesday saw the remaining six split into two groups as they were sent to cook under some of the UK's finest chefs.
First up was Tom, Laure and Charlie who would be cooking with Jeremy Chan at Ikoyi, one of London's finest restaurants which has earned two Michelin stars. Each contestant would be cooking a dish from Jeremy’s 18 course tasting menu before trying to impress the chef with a creation of their own. With dishes ranging from octopus cooked in a siu butter glaze on a charcoal grill to Japanese tamari glazed beef served with a spiced hibiscus jelly and an indulgent take on jollof rice, there was a lot of pressure to keep up to pace whilst still perfecting every element of the dish and delivering dishes that lived up to Jeremy's two Michelin star standard.
All three impressed Jeremy with their passion and their cooking but it was Charlie whose dish Jeremy thought perfectly embodied the vibe of his restaurant, providing an unfamiliar feeling with the flavours and textures of his food.
They then returned to the MasterChef kitchen to cook up two courses for the judges in a battle for just two spaces in the final. There was an incredibly high calibre of dishes but it was Lauren who just hadn't quite done enough to impress the judges. Her main - a smoked scotch bonnet pork belly served with a fried dumpling and topped with a pickled escovitch salsa - had several exceptionally cooked elements but the judges agreed the dish lacked a binding element to unite everything on the plate. Her dessert - a charred hibiscus and lime compressed pineapple served with a chocolate mousse - was described as delicious but Marcus and Monica thought she had played it too safe to earn a place in the final.
On Thursday the rest of the group travelled to Lichfield, with Kasae, Tommy and James workingat Upstairs by Tom Sheperd, a modern British restaurant that received a Michelin star just months after its opening. Each would be taking on the challenge of cooking a dish from Tom's lunch tasting menu. Dishes ranged from slowly roasted hogget lamb loin with barbecued lamb belly and served with onion compote and caesar mayonnaise to a mousse dome of venezuelan chocolate decorated with a chocolate cremeux, sherry gel and a rocher of creme fraiche ice cream.
With several complicated and technical issues to master in order to deliver to Tom's Michelin standard, it would be a challenge to get everything cooked perfectly and impress the lunch time customers, featuring Tom's mum as a special guest. Whilst all worked to an incredibly high standard, it was Kasae’s perfectly cooked turbot that really wowed Tom (and his mum!) stating that each of her dishes was ‘immaculate from start to finish.’
Tom then challenged the chefs to create a scallop based dish in the style of his restaurant, focusing on the flavour-led approach he takes in the kitchen.
Back in the MasterChef kitchen, the pressure was on the chefs to cook up a two course dinner that met the necessary standards of a MasterChef finalist. Despite excellent cooking, it was James whose dishes just didn't quite wow the judges this week. His main - a char siu monkfish tail topped with barbecue fish roe and beetroot and served with kelp and kimchi ketchup and a spring onion emulsion - was excellently cooked but Marcus thought there was a missing element that would have helped to neutralise some of the bigger flavours of the dish. James' dessert - a honey, whisky and yoghurt parfait with a honeycomb crumb and a honey, whisky and lemon gel - was described by Monica as 'a delight to eat' but unfortunately not quite set.
Which contestants are going through to the final?
What was once a competition with 32 chefs now has just four remaining. Over the past six weeks, the contestants have put their skills to the tests in a number of challenges set by the judges. But now, there are only four contestants left as they try to prove that they should be crowned the champion of Masterchef: The Professionals 2023.
Those contestants are: Tommy, Kasae, Tom and Charlie.
The MasterChef: The Professionals Finalists 2023
What happened in the finals?
Wednesday saw the challenge that we’d all been waiting for - Chef’s Table. For the first of the three finals, the remaining four contestants would be cooking at The Midland Grand Dining Room for this celebrated culinary event. Each contestant would have just four hours to prepare a show stopping dish and impress 24 of the most respected names in the industry (boasting a whopping 22 Michelin stars between them).
Tom started off the menu with a dish featuring gambero rosso prawns, served with celery sorbet, prawn oil and a side of gazpacho. This starter went down well with the critics - Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House enjoyed the pungent flavours of the celery that came through in the sorbet, whilst Spanish chef Nieves Barragan Mohacho, from Sabor, praised Tom for his delicious gazpacho. The menu then turned to Charlie who served a smoked duck breast, poached duck hearts served with pumpkin and sage ravioli and finished with a mushroom and duck consomme that's technicality was praised by Jean-Phillipe Blondet, chef patron of Alan Ducasse at The Dorchester. Others, such as Adam Handling, were impressed by the use of duck hearts in the desert, stating that they really packed a punch with a big flavour.
The main course was delivered by Tommy, keeping in style with his use of asian flavours with a miso glazed sirloin beef, served with caramelised-onion and anchovy stuffed jacket potatoes served with a beef and onion dashi. Tommy's dish was welcomed amongst the critics with praises sung by Gareth Ward from Ynyshir who described the dish as beautifully cooked and served with an incredible 'little glass of joy.' Finishing off the menu was Kasae's highly technical and creative take on a Ferrero Rocher - comprised of a chocolate and hazelnut sphere served on a chocolate tart with cognac jelly, shiso gel and a creme fraiche sorbet. This was a real note to finish on, leaving the critics severely impressed by the levels of technicality involved in the dish with Lisa Goodwin-Allen, from Northcote, admiring the balance of the rich chocolate with the light sorbet.
Returning to the MasterChef kitchen to cook up a dish inspired by the flavours of their home, it was time to say goodbye to Charlie. The youngest chef in the competition, he had frequently impressed the three judges with his fish dishes - an ode to his Cornish heritage. But today, his poached sea bass filled with a sea bass and chervil mousse just wasn't quite enough, with Marcus, Monica and Gregg deciding that his time in the competition had to come to an end.
The penultimate episode of MasterChef: The Professionals saw Kasae, Tom and Tommy jetting off to Denmark to cook with the world-famous Rasmus Munk at his two Michelin-starred restaurant: Alchemist. Here they would be immersed in his world of 'holistic cuisine' that encompasses art and science into the food. Serving up a selection of 'impressions,' these aren't your everyday dishes. Each plate of food is an experience designed to inspire and get each diner thinking about everyday issues such as animal welfare and the environment.
The episode started with a masterclass as Munk shared three of his impressions with the contestants. First up was 'The Perfect Omelette' - a highly technical dish that uses a 3D printed mould to create an omelette-shaped ice cube which is dipped in an egg mixture to create a membrane. The ice-cube is then defrosted and drained before being replaced with an espuma of egg and comte cheese. The next impression, 'Plastic Fantastic,' takes the jaw of a cod - teeth and all - topped with pickled shallots and bay leaf gel. The real story with this one comes from the edible plastic used on the plate that adds a surprising unpleasantness to the dish which was inspired by the microplastics that pollute the ocean.
Finally, Rasmus showed off his most shocking creation. Taking a stance on animal welfare in this dish inspired by caged animals. Diners are encouraged to 'free' the chicken from its cage with this provocative dish that features steamed chicken feet glazed with a Korean style sweet and sour sauce that is then served in a cage.
Kasae, Tom and Tommy were first challenged to create their own impressions of visual storytelling using products that are often deemed as 'waste.' Kasae's creation was a pig's windpipe croquette filled with cheese and onion bechamel, a dish inspired by a friend who passed from oesophagus cancer. It was an interesting and daring plate that impressed Munk with both its taste and storytelling.
Day two had the chefs returning to Rasmus' kitchen. This time, they would each be responsible for two of his impressions which would be served to specially invited guests - Marcus, Monica and Gregg - who would dine in the uniquely designed dining area where projectors create 3D images above the heads of the diners that reflect the food that they’re eating. Imagine a planetarium - just without the planets.
Tommy would be taking on the challenge of the caged chicken, with Tom cooking the perfect omelette and leaving Kasae responsible for the plastic inspired cod. A truly eye-opening and thought provoking experience that left the judges awe struck. Whilst each of the three chefs struggled with elements of these highly technical dishes, they were able to live up to Munk's expectations and impressed him, as well as the judges, with their cooking.
The final episode of MasterChef: The Professionals 2023! Kasae, Tom and Tommy had given their all over the past six weeks and had just one chance left to impress the judges and prove that they were worthy of winning the title. With just three hours to prepare a three course menu each contestant created intricate dishes packed full of flavour and showing off their techniques.
But there could only be one winner.
Who won MasterChef: The Professionals 2023?
It was 24 year old Tom Hamblet who was awarded the trophy and given the title of Master: The Professionals 2023 champion. Tom consistently impressed the judges with his classic techniques and creatively plated dishes but it was in Friday's final that they really felt he had come to put his own stamp on the food, using the flavours that he really wanted to show off.
Tom's winning menu:
Starter: Poached lobster tail with blanched cherry tomatoes, filled with lobster claw meat, in a lobster and chilli oil, topped with a lemon verbena gel, courgette balls and a creamy lobster and tomato sauce Americaine.
Main: Seared beef fillet on a bed of pan-fried oyster mushrooms, served with braised beef cheek wrapped in pastry, topped with a poached oyster, a lovage emulsion, beef and red wine sauce and a side of beef and oyster tartare.
Dessert: Olive oil sponge cake filled with an olive oil jam topped with lemon curd, creme fraiche cream, fennel tops and a fennel pollen tuile and served with a fennel seed ice cream.
There’s no denying that Tom has impressed the judges at every stage of the competition, and this was really no different, with Marcus stating that he was ‘finding it really difficult to find a problem’ with Tom’s dish with Monica delighted by the way he managed to put 'his personality' and 'his cheekiness into his cooking.'
What are the challenges?
The challenges on MasterChef: The Professionals differ slightly from the regular series, with more complex tasks given to contestants, as might be expected. From coming up with high-end dining concepts on the spot to stripping techniques back and making a meal without any fancy chef equipment, the cooks are really put through their paces. Below are details on the most common challenges, so you know what to expect from MasterChef: The Professionals this year.
Skills test: For many this is the most stressful round to watch as chefs are given a classic dish or technique to tackle under the watchful eye of the judges. The judges typically take turns demonstrating how they would like each challenge completed before contestants are called in to have a go themselves with minimal instructions. There’s always a pastry chef who is horrified by having to debone an animal and always someone who has never made pasta. Enjoy.
Signature dish: The signature dish challenge is played out each and every year and requires the team of hopefuls to showcase their cooking style in just one plate of food. There are bound to be ups and downs, with some triumphing and others seeing their dreams shatter on the unveiling of a solid chocolate fondant or an overcooked piece of meat.
Invention test: The invention test really sorts the wheat from the chaff, where chefs are given one humble ingredient and are tasked with creating something beautiful from it, with the choice of just a few other larder ingredients. In previous shows Marcus has given everyone rice to cook with, to see what they can make from such an everyday product. Other invention tests will take place throughout the competition, with the format usually allowing the chefs to choose from a limited range of ingredients in order to produce a specific sweet or savoury task set by the judges. One such run in the 2020 series saw the team required to make a plant-based dish.
Pop-up challenge: Previously, the contestants had to take on a pop-up food stand at Pergola London food market. This MasterChef challenge was aired over two episodes and saw street food at the centre of the chefs’ offerings. There was an audience of the MasterChef judges as well as invited foodie royalty, who all voted on their favourite dishes to crown a winner.
A personal dish: Another stalwart of the MasterChef lineup, the personal dish round challenges the contestants to produce one plate of food that evokes a memory, reminds them of a favourite person or holds sentimental value to them for some reason. The stories here are usually as good as the cooking, with everyone putting their all into making their friends and family proud after having name-checked them as the inspiration.
The chef’s table: Arguably the most important challenge of all the rounds, the chef’s table is an annual event held in central London. High-profile industry professionals are invited along, including Michelin-starred chefs (holding an intimidating 20 stars between them typically), to try the dishes of the MasterChef: The Professionals hopefuls. Usually Monica and Marcus are on hand in the kitchen to oversee things, while Gregg works the dining room - we're looking forward to seeing what format this round will take in 2023.
What is the prize?
Surprisingly, after weeks of intense competition, contestants receive no prize other than the prestige of winning. Everything is at stake when you are being judged on your livelihood though. The real prize is the new connections and opportunities that come with the publicity from the show. In fact, many winners go on to open their own restaurants or write cookbooks, and become celebrities in their own right.
If you're keen to brush up on your own culinary skills, check out this handy guide to the best cooking classes in the UK.