Burhan Ahmed into Masterchef: The Professionals quarter-finals
A great start and a fantastic introduction to who you are and the level of your cooking – Monica Galetti, MasterChef judge
Seven years ago, a budding young cook posed himself a question on Instagram: ‘Why don’t I just become a chef?’ before hash-tagging ‘MasterChef’ and two Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr.
Yesterday Chef Burhan Ahmad strolled out to face the formidable judges of MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 before storming straight into the quarter-finals.
In doing so, the 23-year-old revealed that he had fulfilled a long-time dream: “I’ve always wanted to enter MasterChef.”
Nickname: Bunsen Burhan
Awards: x2 National Gold Medalist
As one of only 32 contestants to be selected from over 4000 applications this year, Burhan is also the first chef of Bangladeshi heritage to compete on the show.
“I am really excited to enter MasterChef. I’m going to put my blood, sweat and tears into the competition and show them what I’m capable of so that they can believe in my cookery and know that I have a real talent,” Burhan said, who currently works as Chef de Partie at Coventry’s Drayton Manor Hotel.
With a family background in the catering industry, he was introduced to BBC viewers as having been inspired by his father to use great produce when cooking.
“When I was really young, I went to Billingsgate Fish Market with my dad and I spent my savings on buying a lobster. I didn’t do it justice when I cooked it. £20 it cost me; I was about nine,” he recalled.
Facing judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace
Facing judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace, Burhan was asked to prepare a hot smoked trout served with a celeriac rémoulade in the opening round.
Although admitting to never having made a French mayonnaise rémoulade sauce, Burhan began well by impressing renowned Michelin chef Marcus with his filleting skills.
Despite the finished dish not quite cutting the mustard, Marcus advised the phlegmatic Ahmed: “You’re very together and you’re in control. But you certainly need to sharpen up your skills if you’re going to progress through the competition.”
And sharpen up he did by serving what Marcus later dubbed “two cracking courses” that saw him straight into tomorrow’s quarter-final showdown.
Starting the Signature Round “feeling really good”, Burhan said he would be cooking the trio the following main and dessert that represented him:
- Main – Pan-fried fillet of rainbow trout served with a cauliflower puree, blanched samphire, fennel salad, and a beurre blanc sauce.
- Dessert – Set chocolate ganache with a chocolate soil, salted caramel hazelnuts, charred pineapple, and a raspberry lace tuile.
“I like simple food done really well. So as long as I get a good start, I’ll feel quite confident to finish strongly,” he added.
And the father of one does not dream small either. When asked what he aspired to be, the award-winning chef unhesitatingly answered: “My dream would be to one day own a restaurant in the world’s 50 best.”
Storming into MasterChef: The Professionals’ quarter-finals
In the end, though the judges had good things to say of his main, it was the dessert that really drew praise with self-professed pudding-lover Gregg declaring it to be “divine”.
“Wow!” was Marcus’ reaction followed by a clearly impressed Monica remarking: “A great start and a fantastic introduction to who you are and the level of your cooking.”
After being the first of the contestants to make it to the next round, he commented: “I’m over the moon. It’s all worth it at the end of the day because you get comments like that. It just gives me reassurance in my own dishes, in my own abilities, and my passion for food. And I think I really showcased that today.
“The competition was really tough, a lot harder than I expected. But I’m extremely proud of myself. And it’s given me that little boost of confidence that I needed.”
Burhan Ahmed will be one of four chefs tomorrow competing for a place in the competition’s semi-finals.