Dan Lee has been crowned the 2021 winner of MasterChef: The Professionals.
The young chef has described winning the prize as "a dream", saying that following a tough compeition he finally knew what it meant to really "back yourself".
After another year of the hospitality industry facing restrictions and seemingly never-ending hurdles, the 2021 competition felt more poignant than ever. While viewers would have recognised a lot of the tried and tested formulaic elements from previous shows, there were signs of the pandemic throughout – from fewer chefs in each round to allow for social distancing to judges watching challenges from ‘viewing chambers’ rather than being on the floor during some tasks.
One thing that remained the same however was the final order of events, which as ever saw the three hopeful chefs compete to win the coveted trophy. In the last round of the fiercely competitive show the final chefs were tasked with cooking three dishes for judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace. The keen chefs presented a starter, main and dessert each, which ensured the judges had a tough decision on their hands to narrow things down to just one winner.
Impressing all three judges, Monica summed things up for the MasterChef team, telling Dan: "It has been such a delight to watch a chef like you develop, grow and discover what you’re about. Thank you for sharing that with us”.
Dan's final winning menu
Starter: Dan's starter was his take on the classic Singaporean chilli crab. This consisted of a deep fried bao bun, crab salad, nashi pear, salted egg yolk, a squid ink tuille, soft shell crab tempura, and a crab and chilli oil.
Main: Dan's main was another Singapore streetfood classic - chicken and rice. The chef's interpretation included a chicken breast stuffed with thigh meat flavoured with sesame and pan dan, choy sum in garlic and chilli, chicken infused rice with garlic and ginger, a chilli sambal and a chicken broth.
Dessert: Dan's dessert was a smoked hay treacle tart with pickled ginger, shisho leaf and clotted cream ice cream.
Which restaurant does Dan Lee work for?
While Dan told viewers his most recent experience was as a private chef, it would seem that the cook’s CV does include spending time working at a Michelin star restaurant. Dan posted the news that Table 65 in Singapore had won a Michelin star in its first year saying “we gon’ dun it”, indicating that he was there at the time the accolade was given. It’s his experience here perhaps that Dan drew on for his final winning menu. A subsequent post stated his last week at the restaurant was in November 2019 when it looks like he headed back to England.
According to a comment the chef made on a previous Instagram post, he will be doing various pop-ups across the UK in the coming months so that people can try his food.
Although Dan doesn’t currently work for a restaurant, he has just launched his own website with the message ‘something exciting is coming soon”. Watch this space.
Who were the MasterChef: The Professionals 2021 finalists?
The final was an all-male line-up, with three up-and-coming chefs vying for the top spot. Each of the top three chefs come to the competition with very different backgrounds but are equally as talented as far as we could tell.
Private chef Dan loves to create well balanced fusion food, often presenting the judges with plates that combine Asian flavours with European techniques. He’s been consistent throughout, vary rarely getting anything other than praise, and is often seen to share recipes with his followers on Instagram to encourage others to cook his dishes too.
With a CV that spans time in multiple Michelin starred kitchens, we think it’s safe to say that Liam is an ambitious chef. He now holds a position at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland where you can sample his cookery first-hand.
Having spent time working on Richard Branson's private holiday escape Necker Island, it’s a given that Aaron is well used to creating fine food. Now with his feet back on UK soil the chef loves nothing more than creating plates from British ingredients, saying he likes the philosophy that ‘if it grows together, it goes together’.
What do you win if you win MasterChef?
Here’s the shocking bit… nothing. Well, you get to keep the trophy and the glory that comes with the title, but the winner doesn’t actually receive anything along the lines of prize money, a guaranteed job or a particular opportunity. From the experience of winners from previous years however we think it’s pretty safe to say that it paves the way for a successful career.
The MasterChef: The Professionals 2021 final was aired on the 16 December 2021 at 9pm.
Fancy yourself as a top chef? Here's how to apply for MasterChef