A young chef from Dorchester said he better ‘start practising’ after learning he had made the grand final of a television cooking contest.
Charlie Jeffreys, who grew up in Dorchester and started out as a pot washer at the Yalbury Cottage in Lower Bockhampton, was thrilled to learn he had made the final three of the BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals.
Charlie, who was 23 at the time of filming the programme, was one of 32 chefs entering the competition and will now compete against two others in the final on Sunday night to see who is declared champion.
In the first round of last night’s show, the four remaining contestants were asked to make a dish inspired by a place that’s special to them.
Charlie made a roasted red mullet (tied in a heart shape) accompanied by a red mullet and brown crab sauce. The plate was inspired by Dorset’s Jurassic Coast where he loved fishing, he said.
Although judge Anna Haugh and presenter Gregg Wallace noted the fish was ‘a bit undercooked’, judge Marcus Wareing said ‘the fish is a work of art – I’m happy with the fish’.
In the next round, all three contestants had two and a half hours to cook for the critics.
“I’m a man on a mission,” Charlie said. “I’m enjoying it, I’m going to try and give it enough.”
His innovative dish was cauliflower with chicken mousse with chicken liver mousse on the side. “They’re humble ingredients but hopefully done well and done differently,” Charlie said.
Upon producing the dish, Charlie proceeded to carve up the cauliflower in front of the hungry critics as though it was a piece of meat, which was ‘great theatre,’ an impressed Gregg said.
The final four contestants were told by the judges that going home at this stage of the competition was the worst time to be leaving the contest.
Sadly, this was the case for Devon chef James Checkley, who wasn’t selected for the final stage of the competition.
A delighted Charlie will now go on to contest the grand final of MasterChef: The Professionals.
“It would mean the world to me to lift the trophy,” he said.
“I better start practising because it’s going to be a big, big challenge.”
*MasterChef: The Professionals the final is on BBC1 on Sunday at 6.15pm.