Fife chef tells of MasterChef experience

Chris Niven.
Chris Niven.

The Burntisland chef, who competed in BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals, today spoke of his sadness at having been eliminated, but said he’d thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Chris Niven (34) who lives in Burntisland, is head chef at Edinburgh’s Printing Press Bar and Kitchen on George Street.

Viewers were on the edge of their seat as Chris reached Knockout Week among the top 12 chefs in the UK, but sadly he narrowly missed out on going any further.

“I’m obviously gutted about going out, but over all it’s been really positive and I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.

“Its definitely a high-pressure, especially in those sort of rounds where you’re getting down to the nitty gritty. The pressure just builds for every round that you go through.

“There is a lot of work involved in it. You only see a little bit of it on TV but you’re actually down there quite a lot, the days are quite long, and obviously you’re juggling work and all the other things in your life as well so it does take quite a lot out of you but it’s definitely worth doing.

“I’d worked with a few guys who’d done it in the part and they’d all spoken really highly of it. I thought it was a good time to apply.”

And are the judges as fearsome as they appear on TV?

“Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing are there to do a job, they’re at the top of their game and they know what they’re doing. They’re the ones who will scrutinise everything you’re doing, but they’ll also encourage you. It’s good getting to get their feedback, but it’s definitely nerve-wracking listening to them though.

“Greg Wallace is really funny, he’s the one that goes around cracking jokes and stuff trying to put everyone at ease and make them smile as everyone’s always extremely nervous.”

Chris’ first offering of mackerel and chorizo received some praise from judges but they felt it wasn’t his finest dish.

“The first dish that I put up, I wasn’t happy with it, the judges weren’t happy with it, so I thoroughly deserved to be in the bottom four. I think the nerves got to me and I made a couple of wrong choices on that one. It wasn’t how I was planning it.”

And while Chris’ cook off dish of roast quail, veg, and a sherry sauce impressed the judges, they felt it needed more of the quail.

“That was the only thing that was missing,” he said. “I should have put the other breast of the quail on. Other than that I got some really good feedback on that. I think I was in with a chance.

“I think it was quite close, but they obviously went with Louisa in the end.

Given another chance, would Chris have done anything differently?

“I’d probably not do the mackerel dish,” he laughed. “I’d probably take a little bit more time before deciding what I was doing.”

So what’s next for Chris?

“I’ll just continue to work hard. I’d love to have my own place one day, so we’ll see what happens after the show and see what it can do for my career.”