MasterChef has opened some amazing doors!

Hi everyone, it has been a while and I apologise but I have been very busy and I am loving the fact that I am still having so many new experiences. Last time I wrote to you all I was halfway through a busy time at Pollen Street Social. Before MasterChef I never knew that chefs do Stages at different restaurants and whilst I don’t count myself as a chef it is one of the doors that open when you are on MasterChef. Why Pollen Street Social? Well, I have always admired Jason Atherton and I love his food. I have been very lucky to have been taken to both Maze when he was cooking there and Pollen Street Social. (Huge thanks to my brother Colin).

I met Jason Atherton once when a bit tiddly... I jokingly questioned the waiter at Maze on why my shepherd’s pie, the most sublime lamb dish, did not have a crusty topping. To my surprise and a little mortification Jason Atherton came out to explain to myself and my brother. I had a million things I wanted to ask him but got nervous and apologised for wasting his time. The dish was so beautiful! So here I was actually at one of his restaurants and in his kitchen… Not a chef, no pressure.

I was so nervous… Chefs take years to train so for me going into a professional kitchen for a week was huge.

My first introduction was on the patisserie section and I have to be honest my heart sank. Oh no, I don’t cook with flour at home very often, so patisserie is probably my weakest area. However, huge thanks to two gentlemen: Leo and Sean (see below):

Hats off you taught me so much and I discovered a little talent for patisserie that I never knew I had. They even let me loose on the Dessert Bar during service. Here is a picture of me and Leo Maple Head Pastry Chef and Marcus Rohlen - Sous Chef at the Dessert Bar.

I then moved onto being in the main kitchen… Dale Bainbridge (see above) who is the Head Chef and man of real talent explained to me how it all works.

Somewhere, out of what seems like mayhem there is a structure and an order that turns out Michelin Star food; it’s so impressive to watch and I loved it. I think I am one of the mad ones who in a different life could have done the double shifts and the extreme hard work to be in a kitchen. It’s a love of food, the process and the ingredients - to get that little bit of magic.

Dale was incredibly accommodating and kind; he and his team showed me how they plate, little things that make a difference and an attention to detail on every part of the dish, butchery how to peel numerous mushrooms and carrots. It’s definitely not all glamour, and just cramming as much information into the week as they could. Thank you so much it really was an incredible week and the best bit…

On my last night I sat in the restaurant and was just given so much food to eat, tasters, the most amazing take on a Fruits of the British Sea and lots of different items off the wonderful menu. It was a real treat for a foodie like me. I just wish I had taken more pictures that worked.

I have to mention Mathew Mawtus General Manager, Star of GQ (see above). Thank you for the delicious wines paired with my food and the service.

Everyone at the restaurant, despite the busyness of the kitchen and the pressure they were under took the time to answer my questions and really give me an understanding of the processes involved. Dale Bainbridge the Head Chef of Pollen Street thank you, I had a ball and look forward to coming back very soon…

I will be doing other Stages in other restaurants over the coming months and will keep you updated.

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