Final four - MasterChef: The Professionals 2017, Craig Johnston

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th December 2017

Tonight marks the beginning of finals week for MasterChef: The Professionals 2017.

One of the four hopefuls looking to impress veteran judges Monica Galetti and Marcus Wareing and take home the crown is Craig Johnston. 

Find out more about the sous chef from Michelin-starred The  Royal Oak in Maidenhead (Craig has since joined Marcus Wareing's Michelin-starred restaurant Marcus):

Craig Johnstone
MasterChef: The Professionals finalist 2017
Craig Johnstone

Name: Craig Johnston

Region: Maidenhead

Age: 21, now 22

Profession: Sous chef

Place of work: The Royal Oak

Personal: Girlfriend, who is also a chef. Family is Mum, Dad, older brother, older sister and younger sister

Twitter: @Craigo2106

Instagram: @craigj2106

Cooking Background

“I first became interested at an early age but I didn't really click in my head as something I'd want to do as a career until I was cooking in food technology classes at secondary school (Furze Platt Secondary School in Maidenhead) and realised I was good at it.

“After school, I was trained at a two-AA Rosette Restaurant in Maidenhead called Boulters, under chef Daniel Woodhouse. Through the restaurant I also was able to achieve NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Professional Cookery from Henley College.”

Influences

“I've been influenced by a lot of chefs. I love the style of Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park in New York, his plates are so clean and precise and so natural at the same time as he doesn't mess around with the amazing produce he uses. Another chef who has inspired me is Tom Aikens. I ate at his Tom Aikens restaurant when I was just starting out cooking as a career and I was blown away by his style. The flavour pairings were very classic, but the huge number of elements that went into his dishes with contrasting textures, temperatures and tastes, was so clever.

“My mum also influenced me as a child by getting me involved in baking on the weekends with her. I guess that's where my love of pastry comes from, so, inspired by her, I risked a place for the semi finals with a flapjack, based on the recipe made with mum when I was around five years old.”

Food Passions

“In cooking, I love the creativity involved and getting to work with great ingredients day to day. The pastry section is where I see myself being the most creative and adventurous with my dishes. Cooking in this era is amazing, we have such a variety of ingredients on our doorstep here in Britain, it's something we pride ourselves for doing at work. Also, we have access to fantastic ingredients from around the world these days, whether it be chorizo from Spain, yuzu from Japan or even spices, it's these things I believe can be the last missing ingredient that can really elevate a dish to the next level.

On MasterChef: The Professionals 2017

“I've watched the competition in previous years and always thought I'd be able to do that and it wasn't until I saw a tweet in January that applications were open, that I thought I'd actually enter. The most challenging moment of the competition for me has been the final 12 invention test in knockout week. It was such a stressful and long day, and having to cook twice that day made it even worse!

“Getting to the finals is so surreal, I’ve put so much time into focusing on the competition, for it to pay off is totally amazing.”

Cooking ambitions

“As the next step in my career, I'd love to focus more on fine dining and push myself to learn more whilst I can. My ambitions longer term are to learn as much as I can still while I'm young, and hopefully when the time is right in years to come step up to my own head chef role.”

MasterChef: The Professionals 2017 – The Final Week, starts tonight, continues Wednesday 21st and concludes Thursday 22nd December, 8pm on BBC Two

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th December 2017

Final four - MasterChef: The Professionals 2017, Craig Johnston