I didn’t for a second think I would hear anything back after sending off my application form to be on the TV series Masterchef (UK).
My ex-housemate Angela, who got me addicted to the show, sent another application form to me insisting I applied. I’ve never had any aspirations to be on TV but I eventually obliged just to stop the constant mithering!
The Application Process:
This all started back in May 2015. My Messy Cook blog had only been up and running a few weeks at this point. We had to declare on the application form if we blogged about food, so I disclosed my Messy Cooks website.
One caveat for being considered to be on the show, is that you have never worked in a professional kitchen, or owned your own food business. At the time of application I hadn’t, so this wasn’t a problem.
The Phone Interview Stage:
It was late July, had just finished work and I was on my way to Manchester Airport to fly over to Berlin for a few days. I noticed a voice message on my phone and went to retrieve it. Yes, you guessed, it was from the Masterchef Team!
I felt sick with excitement and nerves. I returned the call, asking if it was a joke, but soon found out it wasn’t! As I was enroute to the airport we arranged a phone interview for the following week.
As you can imagine, my mind was in overdrive the next few days, wondering what kind of questions will I be asked, how near am I to actually getting on the show?
The day of the telephone interview came as I nervously waited for my phone to ring. I couldn’t tell you exactly how long I was on the phone for, probably around 45 minutes or so. The interview went well, I literally talked about food the whole time, which is never a problem for me.
I was told that the next stage is the ‘live’ cooking stage, and that I would be notified via email in the next week or so if successful. My interviewer also asked me to refrain mentioning on any social media platforms that I had got through to this initial stage.
All I was thinking at this point, was that I did well to get through to this stage, with the tens of thousands of applications received. I honestly thought that this would be the last I will hear from Masterchef.
The ‘Live’ Audition Cooking Stage:
A few days later I routinely checked my emails, and there it was, an email from the Masterchef show inviting me along to the ‘live’ cooking audition in Manchester.
Now I say ‘live’ very loosely. I basically had to cook one dish at home and transport it to a Manchester hotel for the audition. I thought that this was an unusual method for selection, perhaps cooking in a studio setting would have been more suited. Anyway, I wasn’t in a positon to argue with the process, so I accepted the invite and started to plan what I was going to actually cook!
The Chosen Dish – Apricot & Cashew Chicken Ballotine with Cumin Fondant Potatoes
I had a little over a week to decide my chosen dish. I wanted to cook one of my own recipes so that I could talk about how I created it, and give the dish a story behind it.
The month earlier I had cooked for some friends experimenting on a recipe that was cross between a curry and a roast dinner, combining some of my favourite flavours. I spoke to my friend Nicky, one of those who I had cooked this dish for, who excitedly agreed that it would be a perfect dish to cook for the audition.
So the dish had been decided: Apricot & Cashew Chicken Ballotine with Cumin Fondant Potatoes. This would be served with roasted Cauliflower, crispy Chicken skin, Asparagus and a Spicy Gravy.
Here’s a link to the recipe on my blog; http://wp.me/p67DA2-1Y
The Big Day!
I had practiced components of the dish a few times leading up to the audition. The night before I travelled over to my parent’s house in Oldham, as I had recently moved to Leeds. This was a much shorter distance to travel to Manchester with my cooked dish.
The cooking thankfully went to plan that morning, although it was a nervous time knowing that I had to get it right. After wrapping the food up as well as I could, I placed into a heat proof bag to try and keep the food at least a little bit warm.
It was a short 25 minute drive into Manchester city centre, and I arrived in plenty of time, even having time to stop off for a coffee en-route.
The nerves were really kicking in now as I walked up to the hotel. In the Reception there were a few official looking people with clipboards, so I approached one introducing myself. I sat down next to another interviewee who was going in after me. It was good talking to her to share our mutual excitement and nerves.
My name was called, on time, and I walked into the audition room.
It was just your average hotel conference room, nothing overpowering. There were cameras, lights, and just 2 interviewers present, one asking the questions, and one filming. They were both really friendly. I set up my dish, whilst the questioning commenced. The questions were similar to those on my telephone interview, as well as more specific questions on the Masterchef show itself.
The interview seemed to go fairly quick and quite well I thought. Both interviewers seemed to enjoy my food, which was the most important part to me. Auditions were to go on for another month I was told, and if successful, then the next step would be the actual live show! I would be notified around September or October time if successful. If not successful, then I simply wouldn’t hear back from them.
Moving on from Masterchef:
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I never got that phone call. Part of me was relieved, part of me disappointed.
Friends and family still ask me today ‘Will I apply to go on the show again?’. My answer is always ‘No, I’m unable to apply again’.
My culinary experience has moved on considerably in the past 2 years. I’ve gained experience working in a professional kitchen and hosted my first ‘Around the World’ Supper Club, with the next one being held later this month. I wasn’t prepared to put these kind of experiences on hold on the off-chance I applied for Masterchef again.
I’m glad I applied for the show though, I would always be wondering what if, if I hadn’t applied. It was a great experience, and I still enjoy watching the show. If any of you have thought of applying at some point, then go for it, you have nothing to loose!
*Cover photo curtesy of the BBC