Who is Masterchef: The Professionals 2020 chef, Jamaar Semper?

The  Staff Canteen

Introducing Jamaar Semper, one of 32 contestants taking part in the MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 competition airing on BBC One for six weeks from November 10th until the final on Thursday 17th December. 

The junior sous chef at Michelin-starred Lucknam Park isn't new to competitions: he won the South West Young Professional Chef of the Year 2019 award and was one of 18 talented professionals to win the Royal Academy's Award of Excellence in 2019.

Jamaar faced the MasterChef judges Monica Galetti, Marcus Wareing and Gregg Wallace in the last week of the heats starting on Tuesday 31st November, and will be cooking for restaurant critics Grace Dent and Jay Rayner on Thursday, 3rd December.

1) Full name

Jamaar Semper

2) Nickname

I don't really have one 

3) Age

22

4) Where are you from / where do you live?

I'm a born and bred Bristolian, where I still live 

5) What type of a chef are you?

I'm classically trained in fine dining, but I enjoy cooking a lot of Asian-inspired food. I really like the different flavours and ingredients that come from Asia. 

6) Do you have a favourite type of cuisine?

I enjoy creating and trying many different cuisines, but my favourite would have to be Chinese. 

7) How did you become a chef? (e.g. formal training, apprenticeship, self-taught)

I started my training when I was 16 at City of Bristol College. Whilst there, I was offered an apprenticeship to work at Berwick Lodge, a 2 AA-Rosette hotel.

8) Where have you worked?

My first job was an apprenticeship at Berwick Lodge where I spent three years working my way up to chef de partie. I now work at Lucknam Park, a one Michelin-starred hotel in Wiltshire, which I joined as a commis but was promoted to a chef de partie position and then my current role as a junior sous-chef.

9) Who are your mentors/role models/people you look up to, in your professional and/or personal life?

My first head chef, Paul O’Neill, has had a huge influence on my career so far. He gave me a solid foundation in my training, showing me all the basics and pushing me to always work at a high standard.

I also consider my current executive chef, Hywel Jones, to be a great mentor. Over the last few years, I've learned so much from him, and I owe a lot of what I've achieved to his knowledge and feedback.

10) What is your guilty pleasure dish (not necessarily cheffy, cheesy baked beans on toast is a perfectly respectable reply!)?

My mum's homemade lasagne. It always reminds me of when I used to help her cook as a youth.

11) What is the best thing / worst thing about being a chef? 

The best thing about being a chef is creating an idea and getting to follow it through to see the finished product. It is very satisfying, and then getting great feedback from your ideas is an incredible feeling.

The worst thing about being a chef is the special occasions you have to miss sometimes, like birthdays and Christmas.

12)  How did it feel to step onto the set of MasterChef: The Professionals?

I've been watching MasterChef from a young age and it's something that inspired me to become a chef.

Stepping into the room for the skills test, I was incredibly nervous as it has made many great chefs mess up and forget everything. The time flies quickly, and to top it off the judges are watching your every move. 

I loved taking part in the competition this year was an incredible experience, and to get feedback from two of the best chefs in the country is amazing .

13) How did 2020 compare you what you thought it would be this time last year?

This time last year, I thought 2020 would be a great year.

I took part in some competitions last year and was really excited about the future, but then to see everything stop in hospitality was scary.

Seeing business struggle and close has been hard, but hopefully 2021 will be a more successful year for hospitality.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 3rd December 2020

Who is Masterchef: The Professionals 2020 chef, Jamaar Semper?