Meet Poppy O'Toole - the Young MasterChef Judge 2024 - programme starts Monday 8 January

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


BBC Three

Q&A with Poppy O’Toole

Welcome back to another series of Young MasterChef, Poppy! How does it feel to be back?

My answer is wow! I can’t believe they’ve let me back in the MasterChef kitchen to actually judge and host again. It’s an amazing feeling and I’m so excited to be back and working with Big Has on this series. I’ve been looking for an excuse to get back in the kitchen with him. I also love to see all the young talent come through and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.

Social media has seen an incredible rise in showcasing new recipes and new cuisines to a mainstream audience. With your background in social media, do you believe it’s important for budding chefs or even established chefs to have a presence on social media?

I think there is a place for everyone to have a social media presence. I mean it’s not a necessity but it’s a really good way to keep up to date with trends, showcase your skills and build up your confidence in cooking. You also get exposed to cuisines from around the world so it can be quite an inspirational tool. For me it’s not just a hobby anymore, it’s a whole career. So if you are considering a social media presence, just do it!

How has it been to have Big Has join you as co-judge this series?

It has been amazing to have Big Has join the team as he’s genuinely hilarious and super easy to get along with. He inspires all the contestants so everyone really values his opinion and takes it all on board. It also helps that he’s an incredible chef, so I’ve been taught a few new things too!

What’s it been like filming this series following last year?

It’s just been wild! We’ve had a few different challenges this year, although I don’t want to give away too much. Let’s just say that you’ll see us work in different habitats outside the MasterChef kitchen, which is really exciting.

How important do you believe it is to highlight the new and upcoming talent in the food industry through competitions like Young MasterChef?

It’s so important in the hospitality industry to keep on bringing new people in. We need spaces for people to come in and show us their talent and their passion. Young MasterChef is a great platform to get that exposure and discover what they want in a future career.

It might be that they want to do social media, or that they want to be a chef in a professional kitchen or even release food products such as sauces and spices, which is exactly what we saw happen from the previous year. I also think it’s so necessary that we do these competitions to showcase talent to other people who are already in the industry. It gets their name out there and hopefully pushes them toward a very long and successful career.

What qualities do you look for in a winner?

I look for someone who can develop and grow throughout the competition. I think growth is a massive one, as you need to be constantly learning and changing and adapting, whilst maintaining that passion. Obviously, I also want great tasting food too! I need to see someone who can be brave with different cuisines and food pairings. Confidence is also essential as it’s tough going, so I love to see contestants really believe in themselves.

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

We’re both pretty easy going to be honest, but we know what we’re looking for and what we’re talking about! The last thing we want to do is knock someone's confidence, so we’re there to build people up. Even when it comes down to the horrible stuff like sending someone home, which always gets me! If it was up to me, no-one would leave but hopefully anyone that left felt like they received constructive feedback that will only enhance their game.

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

It’s gotta be to go for it! Realistically, you need to be prepared for long, unsociable hours and a high pressure environment but if you love it, it can be so rewarding. I’m a people pleaser so I absolutely loved seeing a happy customer, knowing that I’d delivered a meal that made their day or added a little bit of sparkle to their week. That’s what you’ve got to remember and enjoy, because you’re there for the people, not just the food.

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

You can expect some right laughs, some delicious food, some strange food (in a good way) and just a whole lot of wholesome energy. I can’t wait for everyone to see this series because it’s really fun! The contestants are so deserving to be there and I think they’ve had about as wild a ride as me.


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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