Who is chef Aaron Middleton, MasterChef: The Professionals 2021 finalist?

The  Staff Canteen

Introducing Aaron Middleton, one of 32 chefs taking part in MasterChef: The Professionals 2021, airing on BBC One every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 9pm.

Aaron is a 27-year-old private chef and the owner of his own company, Aaron Middleton Ltd. Originally from Windslow, he attended Winslow Combined C of E School, before going on to Cottesloe in Wing.

He has so far impressed Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, chef and restaurateur Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace, first securing a spot in the quarter finals, where he presented two dishes to three food critics William Sitwell, Grace Dent and Tom Parker-Bowles, and, in an exceptional turn an events, became one of three chefs - alongside Charith Mallawa and Jamie Holme - to secure a spot in the semi-finals.

In the semi-finals, Aaron cooked for a host of London pop-up chefs, preparing Jonny Cake and slow-cooked pork burger with rum punch; then, in his signature round, he followed with a benito butter-poached lobster tail, lobster and scallop mousse ravioli spiced with star anise, lemongrass, ginger and saffron, served with a smoked fennel pollen mayonnaise and a red pepper, wine and anise sauce. 

Aaron made it through to finals week, and his skillfull cooking in the first round saw him through to the Chefs' Table, where his food was tasted by prominent names in the industry including Matt Abé, Daniel Clifford, Lisa Goodwin-Allen, Nieves Barragán, Glynn Purnell, Michael Caines and Aktar Islam.

In the next step of the finals, airing on Wednesday 15th December 2021 on BBC One at 9pm, he will join the three remaining finalists in the MasterChef kitchen for two final challenges before one is eliminated and the others go on to cook at Alain Ducassse at The Dorchester under executive chef Jean-Phillippe Blondet at the three Michelin-starred restaurant.

Biography

Despite his young age, Aaron has already had quite the career. Leaving school at 16, he began his culinary career with an apprenticeship under chef Steven Bulmer at Brook Hall Cookery School in Winslow.

At 17, he started working under Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones in the kitchens of the two Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, where he rose to become part of the senior team. From there he moved on to London's The Ledbury where he served under chef Brett Graham, before being headhunted to take another senior role at Chef Ollie Dabbous’ new project, Hide.

In 2019, Aaron took on the position of head chef for Sir Richard Branson at his residence on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands. However, in 2020 he left and returned to England where he now works as a private chef for a family in Oxford. Working as part of a team of chefs, Aaron cooks for the head of the house.

Twitter: @aaronmiddleton

Instagram: @chefaaronmiddleton
 
Region: London and Oxfordshire, originally from Winslow, Buckinghamshire.
 
Age: 27 (26 during filming)
 
Personal: Girlfriend of eight years, Gabby.
 
Cooking Background: My Nanny Pat is the reason I fell in love with food and cooking. Those nostalgic aromas of a family dinner, enjoying a meal with those you love are the things I remember.

She taught me how food can bring people together, how flavour and smell can evoke memories and feelings. It’s wonderful providing that for people and something I strive to do with every dish.

I grew up in Buckinghamshire and went to Cottesloe Secondary School, after which I got a job at Brooke Hall Cookery School in Winslow, where I trained with Stephen Bulmer as his apprentice whilst doing one day a week at Aylesbury College. It was hard graft, long hours and a lot of fun. I am forever grateful to Stephen.

After that, he placed me into the kitchens of the two Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, where I spent the next five years and also met my partner Gabby – on the fish section – very romantic!
 
Influences: My family and girlfriend have been the biggest influences in my life – I’m very lucky to have grown up with encouraging, supportive and down to earth people. My nan was an amazing woman and damned good cook. My culinary inspirations are Brett Graham for his relentless passion and eye to detail, and Ollie Dabbous for his intelligent, complex palette and seamless logistical approach.

Food Passions: I’m passionate about using food to share and connect with people. To roast a perfect piece of meat or to dress a vibrant crab salad - with attention and love - and give that to someone to enjoy is what it’s all about.

The feelings I got at my nan’s house - love, warmth, comfort - I want to bottle them and give them to whoever I can. Seasonality and the origin of food is also a passion of mine. Where nature is left to thrive, great flavour will be found. Adding a bit of excitement and cunning to food is always good fun too.
 
On MasterChef: The Professionals: I’m used to the fast-paced life in a kitchen and after recently taking a job as a private chef over lockdown, I found myself with some time to spare.

What better way to use it than testing your skill against some of the country’s best chefs? I’m so excited to have reached the finals. This is a once in a life time opportunity and I can’t wait to get stuck in and cook my heart out.

The toughest time on MasterChef so far has been the skills test. I was so nervous I could barely see. It took me two goes to get my apron on properly. What was on the surface was not the same as what was going on underneath.
 
Cooking Ambitions: I’m really grateful for all the love and support I’m getting at the moment and long term, I want to connect people with food, teach people the power of good cooking and share the techniques to make that happen. I’m open to new opportunities. 2022 is just around the corner and I’m running at it head first. I have lots of events, pop-ups and festivals lined up. I’m so excited for what is to come.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th December 2021

Who is chef Aaron Middleton, MasterChef: The Professionals 2021 finalist?