Steven Edwards Talks about Life after Winning MasterChef: The Professionals
Since being crowned as winner of MasterChef: The Professionals in December 2013 Steven Edwards has not looked back.
Steven was a special guest at a recent meeting of The Chefs’ Forum and he spoke about how winning the TV show had changed his life.
“I didn’t want to enter the competition at first,” he said. “I was Head Chef at Camellia at South Lodge in Horsham at the time, and my boss told me that he wanted me to enter.
“He just kept pestering me and in the end I gave in.
“I had done a lot of competitions before, but when it is on TV there really is nowhere to hide. They highlight every mistake.
“If you do a regular competition and you mess up you can just come back and say it wasn’t your day and no-one knows any different, but you can’t do that with MasterChef.
“Entering it was a very careful decision.
“Working in a five star hotel there was a lot of pressure. If I had gone out in the first round then I’m sure it would have had a negative effect on the hotel.”
Far from having a negative effect, once Steven was announced as winner the bookings came flooding in.
“I really didn’t realise the effect it would have,” said Steven. “People talk about ‘the MasterChef wave’ and it really is true.
“The announcement was on December 19 so it was near Christmas and the restaurant was busy already, but then once the announcement was made the booking system crashed and suddenly we were fully booked all the way through until March or April.
“The funny thing is that I don’t think the food was any better than before, it’s just about the exposure that it gives you.
And it’s this exposure that led Steven to make the decision to leave Camellia and set up his own business, Etch, a brand that offers master classes, demonstrations, product endorsement, recipe development, food writing, private dining, pop up restaurants and restaurant consultancy.
“Everything started to feel a bit easy,” said Steven. “Which is why I decided to start my own company. I’ve had to learn about everything, and it was more challenging than I thought it might be but I am enjoying it.
“So much of what I am able to do know is thanks to MasterChef. I would never be able to work with the companies that I do if I hadn’t had that exposure.”
“I’m also in the process of negotiating a lease for a restaurant in Brighton. I have been doing pop-ups and keeping people up to date with what I am doing so hopefully when I do open my own restaurant the customers will be there.”
Steven believes that interaction with diners is key.
“The unique thing about what I do is that I like to cook in front of people and showcase what I’m doing and telling a bit of a story,” he said.
“Gone are the days when chefs are just sending food out with waiters and waitresses and relying on them to pass on the message to the diners.
“We bring the food out and plate up in front of people and have a lot of interaction with the guests.
“Food is so subjective. It’s like an art gallery. It won’t all be to everyone’s taste.
“But I’m not scared if someone says they don’t like something that much. I want the conversations.”
Steven will be hosting a pop-up restaurant in Shoreham by Sea on June 26, and at Blenheim Palace on July 10. For more information visit www.etchfood.co.uk