Meet Big Has - the Young MasterChef Judge 2024 - programme starts Monday 8 January

Young MasterChef series 2 judges Poppy O'Toole and Big Has on showcasing young, talented cooks and what they're looking for in a winner

The stage is set for the ultimate kitchen battle, as Young MasterChef returns to shake things up for 2024

PHOTO: Big Has, Poppy O'Toole (Image: BBC/Shine TV)

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Q&A with Big Has


Welcome to the MasterChef family Big Has! How does it feel being a judge now after appearing as a guest last series?

It’s a major honour to be involved in a show as prestigious as MasterChef. Seeing the contestants’ eagerness to learn and show off their backgrounds through food is something that I’m all about. I really enjoyed being a guest on the last series. Like food, you’ve got to leave people with a good taste of who you are and luckily the producers bought what I was “cooking”!

What is it like filming the series?

I was super nervous on day one - big up to Poppy though! She was super warm and welcoming and the entire team looked after me. It’s a bit like the first day of school - having to suss people out and see the way the show works from behind the scenes. There’s such a good vibe in the studio. The team is like a family and I can see why they’ve worked on it together for so long. They really are the unsung heroes of the show and they’re all such great people.

What has it been like to work alongside Poppy as a co-judge?

Poppy is honestly one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. We got on really well from the beginning by sharing war stories of kitchens we’ve worked in and having a little gossip. I couldn’t have asked for a better co-host. She took me under her wing, showed me the ropes and we just got it cracking. Poppy is the real deal.

Would you say you’re the strict or easy-going judge between yourself and Poppy?

I was aiming to be the fun uncle! I didn’t want to tear anyone apart or be the reason why one of the contestants stopped cooking. At the end of the day, it’s a competition and someone has got to take home the trophy.

Did you resonate at all with the contestants as someone who also got into cooking at a young age?

A lot of the contestants are actually younger than I was when I started cooking. So it’s good to see the new generation of cooks understand and appreciate ingredients, tell their stories through food and share cherished family moments with us on TV. I actually learnt a lot of new things from the contestants.

How important do you believe competitions like Young MasterChef and training programmes within the culinary industry are to young people?

I hope shows like Young MasterChef push the younger generation into actually giving cooking a go. It’s a tough industry and I wish sometimes that I found cooking earlier in life so I had a little more time travelling and working in other kitchens. That being said, I do feel like “food technology” in secondary schools could be something to revisit. It would be great to give kids the tools they need in terms of real life skills. We should be teaching kids at that age the fundamentals and the things that will come in handy when no-one is home to cook or when they spread their wings later in life.

What advice would you give young and aspiring chefs who may want to get into the culinary industry?

If you’re willing to sacrifice, anything is possible. I gave up my twenties to learn my skills. It was a laugh at the time but I’d say if really want it, expect to put food and work first over everything. Also, go to college, look for apprenticeships and do work experience in restaurants you aspire to work in. You can’t just rely on a viral video to carry you. It’s all about the fundamentals. You can’t build a house without a roof first.

What qualities do you look for in a winner?

For me, it’s about finding that person with drive, ambition and an ability to bounce back. I also feel that being able to understand your mistakes being able to rectify them without feeling like the world is against you is very important too.

What can viewers expect when they tune in on BBC Three?

They can expect laughs, a couple shockers, good food (or scran depending where you’re from), big energy from our contestants, a couple famous faces and an amazing final.

About

Storming back to BBC Three, Young MasterChef returns for a second series, as nine of Britain’s best young cooks press pause on their day jobs to put their cooking skills to the test. Judging their every move is Michelin-trained social media sensation Poppy O’Toole, who is joined by new judge – chef, author and YouTube food star, Big Has.

Britain’s food revolution is hotter than ever and fierce young foodies, hungry for success, are paving the way with exciting street food, pop-ups, and foodie followers on socials.

Those who are rewriting the rules and stirring up the industry now take another leap into the MasterChef kitchen. Who has what it takes to reach the endgame? The stage is set for the ultimate kitchen battle, as Young MasterChef returns to shake things up for 2024.

Young MasterChef is on BBC Three and iPlayer on Monday 8 January at 8pm.

Source BBC Three

January 5, 2024 2:00am ET by Pressparty  

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