Chronicles

County Durham man to showcase culinary skills on MasterChef

A County Durham man will be putting his culinary skills to the test on MasterChef.

Mike Bartley, from Bishop Auckland, decided to apply for the BBC show after being encouraged by friends and family who were impressed by his food.

Now the amateur chef hopes to impress judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace with his skills.

Mike, 34, said: “I feel like I’m able to handle my nerves pretty well so I wasn’t like a wreck or anything like that.

“The whole experience was a bit of a blur but the one thing I really wanted to be careful about was I really wanted to savour the experience as well.

“I tried my hardest just to make sure I would remember as much as possible so it was obviously a dream come true.

“I have been a fan for so long, and it was absolutely fascinating to see how it works and how the show comes together and the various roles behind the scenes, the guys working on the show and how they slot into everything.”

The 17th series of MasterChef kicks off on Monday, March 1 and was filmed under coronavirus restrictions.

Viewers will see contestants try to impress John and Gregg with their creations, with Mike saying meeting the duo was “a bit of a blur”.

He said: “That was part was a bit of a blur because you kind of, you are there, getting yourself prepared and you put your apron on and walk into the kitchen and they are there in front of you.

Mike Bartley, 34, will be appearing on MasterChef

“To be honest, I can’t remember a thing I said to them so when I see it on the television it will be as much of a surprise to me as everybody else.

“I actually think this is the point where the nerves are kicking in. It is done now and I can’t control it, so whatever happens, whatever people see on the television is going to shape what happens for me going forward.”

Mike, who is a retail store manager, said food has always been his passion and hopes to build a career around it.

He said: “I work in retail at the moment, I’m a retail store manager so nothing to do with food at all.

“I did work in bars and managed bars so that was purely from the wet side, so had nothing to do with the food side at all.

“It always interested me and when the chefs had left at the end of the day I used to sneak into the kitchen and like to have a look at all the equipment and be like ‘I’d really liked to use that.’

“I would love to cook in County Durham, so I have lived in various places in England and a couple of different places in Europe as well, and I moved back home about seven or eight years ago and I just love it here now.

“I would love to start my own business, I would love to do collaborations with other restaurants, pop up events if possible, that sort of thing.

“The support from everybody in the area has been absolutely amazing. I just didn’t expect it at all so to ride on the back of that and do something for the people around here would be great for me.”

Watch Mike in the MasterChef kitchen on Monday at 9pm on BBC One.

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