Exclusive interview with MasterChef: The Professionals 2013 winner Steven Edwards

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Michel roux jr, South lodge hotel, Chef, Michel roux

Steven Edwards was last night crowned winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2013
Steven Edwards was last night crowned winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2013
Fresh from being crowned winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2013, Steven Edwards has told BigHospitality he wants to use the experience as a springboard for his career and perhaps eventually open a restaurant of his own.

In one of the closest MasterChef: The Professionals competitions ever, Edwards, who heads up The Camelia restaurant at South Lodge Hotel in West Sussex, beat off tough competition from fellow finalists Scott Davies and Adam Handling.

The 27-year-old said the confidence boost he’s received after being crowned the seventh MasterChef: The Professionals champion last night has given him a desire to now move on to even greater things.

“This is the beginning for me now,” said Edwards. “It’s given me so much more confidence in myself and it will open up a lot of opportunities for me.

“Winning MasterChef: The Professionals just feels fantastic, I’ve received so many messages of support on Twitter - my phone’s been going crazy. It’s really changed my mindset and, in a way, it’s fast-tracked my career.

“Going to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and to Osteria Francescana in Italy (the world’s number three restaurant​) are the kind of experiences you can’t buy. When you do something like that you come back to your kitchen and realise the job doesn’t seem so pressurised anymore.”

Restaurant dreams

Edwards joins the ranks of past winners Derek Johnstone, Steve Groves,​ Claire Lara, Ash Mair​ and last year’s joint-winners Keri Moss and Anton Piotrowski.​ His title was awarded by the BBC show’s judges; double Michelin-starred Michel Roux Jr, Le Gavroche chef Monica Galetti and MasterChef’s seasoned diner Gregg Wallace.

MasterChef-winner
The MasterChef: The Professionals judges say winner Steven Edwards 'expressed himself to the full'

Last night’s winning menu consisted of a starter of Anjou pigeon breast with roasted baby beetroot, caramelised feta dice, apple compote, watercress and a beetroot vinaigrette; a main of pan-fried stone bass on a bed of tomato and parmesan orzo, with pureed poached and blackened Kohlrabi and a lime foam; and a dessert of honey cake topped with honeycomb, with poached peaches, peach compote, roast peach puree, yoghurt espuma, a pistachio crumb and thyme syrup.

So, could the MasterChef: The Professionals 2013 winner one day open a restaurant of his own? Absolutely.

“Every chef’s dream is to have their own restaurant, and that is certainly the case for me,” he added. “Before MasterChef: The Professionals it was just a dream but after winning the competition it’s much more likely to become a reality.

“In terms of the food style I know exactly what I would be doing – it would be more of the same, not using expensive ingredients. That duck and broccoli dish is me all over. My restaurant would be quite small – between 40 and 80 covers – but I’m not sure where it would be located as yet.”

Fault-free cooking

Edwards’ other highlights from MasterChef: The Professionals included designing and preparing a two-course menu for over thirty world-renowned chefs, inspectors and restaurateurs at the esteemed Hix Mayfair. The chef admitted he had to change his style based on the feedback he received, ‘simplifying flavour combinations to better suit what the judges wanted’.

And it certainly paid off, with Michel Roux Jr stating: “Steven has done incredibly well throughout this competition; he’s expressed himself to the full.

“His food is lovely. He makes food that is great to eat, expertly cooked, presented with certain elegance, clean lines, and it works – Fault-free.”

Steven Edwards’ top tips for aspiring chefs

  • “The industry is a hard one but for the first few years you just have to find a head chef you respect and just keep your head down, learning as much as you can.”
  • “Nowadays, a lot of chefs want it all really quickly. I’ve been a chef for nearly twelve years but some students coming into the industry want quick promotions – you have to make a lot of sacrifices but hard work does pay off.”
  • “Ultimately, if you love your job and want to do well in it, you have to make sacrifices. I’m a firm believer that the more you put in, the more you get out.”

Edwards continues to live and work in Horsham, as head chef of The Camellia at South Lodge Hotel. The restaurant’s sister site, The Pass, holds a Michelin star​ and was recently ranked number 80 in the National Restaurant Awards.

Summing up his MasterChef: The Professionals 2013 experience, Edwards concluded: “Entering is actually one of the hardest parts of the competition.​ Every chef’s got self-doubts and you always think of the worst possible outcome, but once you get over that, you quickly realize it’s a fantastic experience and you can take so much from it.”

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