Poppy O’Toole and Kerth Gumbs announced as judges for BBC Three's Young MasterChef

The Staff Canteen

BBC Three’s Young MasterChef has announced today that Michelin-trained Poppy O’Toole and renowned London chef Kerth Gumbs will be judges for the debut series

The series, which is the newest incarnation of the popular MasterChef format, will see Poppy and Kerth presiding over the competition of up-and-coming talented cooks aged between 18 and 25.

During the ten-part series from Shine TV, which will air in 2023, Poppy and Kerth will also be joined by some other foodie guests and be given the opportunity to mentor and inspire the young chefs competing.

David Ambler, Shine TV’s executive Editor for MasterChef, said: "We're delighted to welcome Poppy and Kerth to the MasterChef judging family. They're both highly skilled chefs who each have unique take on British food today."

"We know they'll both inspire and be great mentors to the next generation of young MasterChefs to walk through our kitchen's doors."

In a similar vein, Fiona Campbell, the controller for BBC Three, said: “It’s brilliant news that we have Poppy and Kerth on board for Young MasterChef on BBC Three. Their experience in the industry speaks for itself and we know that they will be great guides for this next generation of culinary talent from across the UK.”

Poppy said, in a post made on Instagram, "Guess what? I’m going to be joining the MasterChef family as host and judge on the brand spanking new series Young Master Chef on BBC Three. I can’t wait to be judging alongside the amazing Kerth Gumbs as we go on the lookout for the UK’s best up-and-coming chef aged 18-25."

Her excitement for the show was clear with her not quite believing that it was really happening, as she also said: "Why does this feel like an April Fools post, but it’s actually real-life."

In a similar Instagram post, Kerth said: "Ok guys great news, I’m buzzing with excitement as I’ll be joined by Poppy O'toole on MasterChef for a brand new series Young MasterChef on BBC Three, can’t wait for you all to see [the series]."

He also called on someone to pinch him, showing he is similarly excited and in disbelief as Poppy is, at the opportunity he has been given.

About the Judges

Both Poppy and Kerth have extensive experience in hospitality with Poppy getting an apprenticeship at Purnell's at only 17.

After three years there, she had risen to become demi chef de partie on pastry and finished her NVQ Level 3. Because of this, she was offered the same position at The Wilderness. But she pleaded with chef owner Alex Claridge to work on the different sections and train on different posts. 

Next, she took on a position cooking food for J.P. Morgan, and within six months she had achieved her goal of becoming a junior sous-chef there. The following year, in March 2019, she spotted a junior sous position at Allbright - an all-women's club in central London, where Sabrina Gidda was the executive chef - and managed to secure it.

However, in March of 2020 everything changed as she was put on furlough and then, in June, let go of entirely. However, during this time she hadn't been sitting around doing nothing.

By the time she was let go of in June, Poppy had already accrued a sizeable audience on TikTok. With her culinary knowledge and her boyfriends knowledge of social media she quickly able to grow a following of 10,000. At this point,TikTok offered to run a  'Learn on TikTok' campaign, whereby she received £1,000 to produce 12 videos in a 'how-to' style. The added visibility this gave her propelled her further into the public space, and her following grew exponentially. 

Kerth, on the otherhand had a different path to his success. He is originally from Anguilla in the Caribbean and was inpsired to start cooking by his chef mother. This lead him to leave Anguilla and move to the UK in 2004 to pursue culinaru studies. In the Uk he studied at Le Cordon Bleu where he obtained a Grand Diploma in French cuisine and patisserie.

After that he went to work for some of London's most successful restaurateurs, Cris Cobrin and Jeremy King, followed by a position at a five star Hilton Hotel. 

Kerth then moved to Singapore in 2011, joining celebrity chef Jason Atherton's new venture Esquina, followed by opening another sister project. However, after two years working and travelling in Asia, where he learnt many new flavours and techniques, Kerth returned to London taking on the position of head chef at Ormer in Mayfair, where he stayed until April 2021.

During his career Kerth appeared on the 2020 series of Great British Menu, making it to the banquet with his pre-dessert and frequently returns to the kitchens at Le Cordon Bleu as a guest chef, in order to share his knowledge and skills with the next generation of students.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th July 2022

Poppy O’Toole and Kerth Gumbs announced as judges for BBC Three's Young MasterChef