You might remember Andrew Kojima from this last season’s MasterChef, and thankfully he’s agreed to speak to us for this week’s segment of Eat My Words. We were all engrossed in watching his exciting inventions all season and now we can’t wait to hear what’s next for him! Follow Andrew on twitter @masterkoj and on his blog Koj Cooks where he’s got recipes and info on his demos and cooking classes.
What inspired you to sign up for Masterchef?
I’d always loved MasterChef when it was on in the 1990s with Loyd Grossman. In recent years, I watched with interest as the contestants did ever more challenging tasks, for ever more exacting chefs, in ever more exotic locations – that’s what made me want to apply.
What was your proudest moment on MasterChef?
I started to get quite emotional as I made it through the later rounds – my father was ill and I was very worried that he might never see what I had achieved on the show. I’m pleased he did get to see it and he was very proud of me.
Who was your favourite guest judge?
The chef I most wanted to meet was Michel Roux Junior. I have always held the Roux family in high esteem not only for what they have achieved for themselves and for cooking in Britain, but also because they are such gentlemen. It was a very special moment when he walked through the doors and I realised I’d made it far enough to meet him. To cap it all, he loved both dishes that I cooked that day.
How has the show affected your life the most? What is the best thing to have come out of it?
I’ve turned something that I love – food and cooking – into my career. The best thing about that? I no longer feel guilty for thinking about food during the day – I can now say it’s my job.
You’ve worked with some heavyweights since leaving the show, which work placement was the most challenging and why?
The Ledbury was disappointing for me. It’s an incredibly high energy and inspiring place to work full time, but it didn’t work as a work placement for me because I didn’t have enough experience to make the most of it. I think I’ll go back, first as a diner then perhaps for another turn in the kitchen.
What’s the big plan for you next?
I’m off to Holland to work at Sergio Herman’s Oud Sluis – the three Michelin star restaurant in a small town in south west Holland. After that, I plan to continue building experience at top restaurants, while also building a career as a private chef, cookery teacher and food writer.
What’s the last restaurant that you ate at, and what did you think?
It’s been a busy year in both professional and family life, so I haven’t been out for dinner much, but a few months ago my wife and I went to L’Enclume and had one of the best meals of our life. It was a great relief that it surpassed all expectation because we’d been trying to go for several years. Now we’ve been, we’re both agreed that we’d make a special trip in future. Apart from “special meals”, I quite often have lunch in Soho.
What’s your favourite local restaurant?
Medlar on Kings Road. The food is always interesting, well cooked, beautifully presented and delicious. The Head Chef Joe Mercer Nairne has been very supportive and great source of advice and inspiration. His business partner David O’Connor runs the front of house impeccably.
Which chefs do you admire most?
Anyone called Roux. Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay – I just wish I could have worked with them to witness their passion, drive and talent. David Everitt-Mathias, because he has never missed a service in twenty five years.Share
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