MasterChef winner shares show’s secrets – and says cooking is the ‘quickest part’

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Alex Webb, 26, won MasterChef The Professionals in 2020 when Covid restrictions were at their most severe – he’s shared how the pandemic affected filming and given The Mirror an insight into what he’s up to now

Alex Webb won Masterchef The Professionals in 2020

The winner of MasterChef The Professionals has revealed some behind-the-scenes secrets from his time on the show.

Speaking to The Mirror Alex Webb, who appeared on the program in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, said things had to be done a little differently from previous years because of lockdowns.

“We didn’t go abroad and we weren’t in any professional kitchens during the series,” Alex, 26, said.

He added the participants had to take daily covid tests and weren’t allowed to get too close to each other – meaning they couldn’t hug and celebrate when they got through to the next round.

“On the other hand, Covid meant all the restaurants were shut, so I had time to be in the kitchen 24/7 practicing my dishes and getting them nailed down, which was really helpful,” he said.







Alex said it was nerve-wracking at first to cook for judges Marcus Wareing, Gregg Wallace and Monica Galetti
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Image:

BBC/ShineTV)

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“My motto was ‘never keep a good dish’. You never know what’s going to happen or when you’re going to go home.

“If you keep a dish back you might never get to serve it.”

The only dish Alex decided to save up to appear in the final was a scallop ceviche starter, which he was particularly proud of.

Despite honing many of his dishes before appearing on the show, there were some things Alex couldn’t prepare for – like the skills test he was asked to complete on his first round.

With just 20 minutes on the timer, he had to prepare a chicken thigh dish for Gregg Wallace and top chefs Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing.

“I was just talking to one of the producers outside and then he said, ‘alright, you can go in now’. I just thought ‘oh God’.

“I guess it’s kind of a good thing because you don’t have time to think about it too much and you just get on with it.”







Alex will be running a pop up from the beginning of May until the end of July
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Image:

Alex Webb)

Alex said it wasn’t long before contestants and crew became firm friends as they spent so much time together.

“The days usually start at 8 am and everyone has breakfast together. That’s when you see the producers and have a bit of fun.

“Then you take a look at all the ingredients and equipment you’ve ordered for your dishes to make sure everything is there and it’s all correct.

“The cooking is the quickest part, to be honest.

“One day my mum was really worried because it was really late and I wasn’t back home yet, but it was because things had overrun, which can happen.”

Although professional chefs are used to working under pressure and to strict time constraints, Alex said everything in the Masterchef kitchen is “double” the intensity compared to real life.

“Things you usually can do easily become difficult. I remember in the final I was shucking some scallops and I was really struggling to open them.

“Usually I can do that no problem but when you’re there and the cameras on you and you’re sweating, it makes it more difficult,” he said.

One thing viewers don’t see is that the judges walk around and taste bits and pieces of the contestants’ recipes while they’re still cooking, which also piles on the pressure.

But the intensity didn’t seem to get to Alex, who sailed to victory and lifted the Masterchef trophy in the final. Since then, he says his life has changed forever.

After spending time catering private events on his own and with other finalists from the show, he’ll now be running a pop-up residency at the InterContinental Hotel at Number One Park Lane, London.

The pop-up will run from 3 May to 28 July and will celebrate all things British in the form of food and drink.

The menu, which will be available for lunch and dinner on the heated terrace at the hotel, will feature some of Alex’s signature dishes including Devon crab and duck Scotch eggs, confit cod sandwiches and a ‘showstopping’ dessert described as Party Popper English strawberries, with edible strawberry dust.

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