Things are coming to the boil in TV’s MasterChef this week – the half-dozen semi finalists are battling not to crack under the heat.
In the thick of it is a young chef born in Sheffield.
Oli Boon, 23, who last night cooked up a storm at two-Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing’s kitchens at The Berkeley Hotel in London, grew up in Bolsterstone.
Oli has earned himself a place in next week’s final episodes by executing one of Wareing’s signature dishes: roast lobster, smoked egg yolk and broccoli, prepared four ways.
It’s very different food to the dishes Oli loved while he was growing up in Bolsterstone.
“Yorkshire puddings the size of dinner plates – that’s what I remember the most,” says Oli, who was working as chef de partie at a restaurant in London’s Primrose Hill when he learned he had been selected for the 2012 heats of MasterChef: The Professionals.
“My mum and dad would take me for Sunday lunch to the local pub and the Yorkshires were superb,” says the talented young chef who for the last four weeks has been winning over the seasoned palates of double Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr, his formidable sous chef Monica Galetti and MasterChef dining expert Gregg Wallace as they hunt for Britain’s next culinary superstar.
Oli is well-used to cooking dainty plates from the finest ingredients, but still admits to a passion for “hale and hearty wintry casseroles and slow-cooked roasts. The type of food I grew up with,” he says. He learned to cook with his mum, former Parson Cross Monteney Primary School teacher Heather Boon.
Heather came to university in Sheffield and stayed after meeting Oli’s dad, Sheffielder Mike Corker. The family moved to Malta before settling in the south of England but dad Mike still retains a property company in Sheffield.
Tonight and tomorrow, BBC2 viewers will see other semi-finalists cooking under two-Michelin-starred chefs Daniel Clifford at Midsummer House and Tom Kerridge at the UK’s only two-Michelin-starred pub, the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
How Oli will fare in the final cook-offs, aired next Monday and Tuesday, is top secret.
“I can’t reveal what happens. The show is a great experience for all the competitors, though,” says Oli. “It’s really tough; it really challenges you and you really do cook against that clock.”