Thu, 19 Nov 2020
A NEWBURY chef said that appearing on BBC One show Masterchef: The Professionals had been a “dream come true”.
Sammy Hillen appeared in the first episode of the new series of the primetime show last Tuesday. Despite a disappointing start, when he failed to impress judges Monica Galletti and Marcus Wareing with his mushroom tortellini in the skills test, he went on to wow them with his signature dishes.
The 25-year-old father-of-two created a duck main course and chocolate dessert that saw him chosen as one of two contestants on that night to go forward in the competition.
Unfortunately, in the next round his Masterchef journey ended, but he said the experience was something he would always remember.
Mr Hillen has worked at both of West Berkshire’s Michelin-starred restaurants – The Woodspeen and the Blackbird at Bagnor – and also under Marco Pierre White at what used to be The Yew Tree in Highclere.
He said: “It was great fun. Obviously I was disappointed to go out when I did and I would have loved to have gone further in the competition, but it was an amazing experience.
“It was certainly something to tick off the bucket list. I’ve always been a fan of the show and I’ve watched it since I was really young, so to be able to actually appear on it was a dream come true really.”
When asked what he though of the judges, he said: “They were firm but fair with their comments.
“I kicked myself in the first round as that was a dish I’ve cooked hundreds of times before and it always turns out well. But there’s a lot of pressure with the judges watching you and the cameras on you.”
Mr Hillen, who was a finalist in Chef of the Year 2018 by BS before going on to win it in 2019, said he started “cooking the basics” at the age of 10.
He is currently on furlough from his job as contract caterer at Thatcham Research, and hopes to use his appearance on the show as a platform to set up his own business as a private chef.
You can follow him on Instagram at chef_sammyhillen
Masterchef: The Professionals airs for the next five weeks on BBC One on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.