He had kept his victory a secret for months, but after reaching the final of MasterChef: The Professionals, Dan Lee found a high-tech way to share the moment of his extraordinary triumph with family and friends.
As the clock ticked as before for the intense program itself, Dan realized that there was a room at the Cuban Embassy in Moseley that he could use … but there was had no TV at the live music pub also known as The Bulls Head. on St Mary’s Row.
“I ordered a projector from Amazon Prime literally the day before and they did what they did best and had it delivered,” Dan said.
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“It was at the last minute, but that way I was able to watch the final safely with my family and friends all together – all the people who have supported me for so long, including parents Sue and Fai and sisters Chloe (the eldest of four siblings) and Bethany and Chloe (who are younger than Dan). “
The 22-part series, which began with 32 chefs all battling for the prestigious title, was shot over several weeks in the summer, meaning Dan had to keep his lips sealed.
Whenever he was available for an interview while the show aired on BBC One, he could only speak to programs that were already on the air.
“I had seen the finale myself once, but sharing it with my family and friends was a really good time,” said Dan, 28 at the time of filming, but now 29.
“My sisters were nervous about how they were going to present themselves, but the creators of the program put together this part in a really beautiful way.
“I’ve been cooking for over ten years and being on the program has been a roller coaster with so many ups and downs.”
Born in Moseley, Dan, who describes himself as “half Cantonese, quarter English and quarter Irish” in honor of his family’s roots added: “It was an amazing experience and I absolutely loved it – it justified my decision to go on a trip.
“Still, I would never have applied for MasterChef if it hadn’t been for Covid.”
Nick Rendall, who runs the recently reopened live music venue The Rainbow in Digbeth, and is partner of the Cuban Embassy partner pub, said: “I wasn’t there last night, but I knew we had a reservation. We just thought he was someone who wanted to show family videos.
“We’re delighted to hear what this was for and congratulations Dan – if he wants to pop up with us he would be more than welcome!”
Three great chefs, one Brummie
The thing about this year’s final is you can see all three finalists have amazing careers.
Liam is a brilliant talent at only 24 years old, Aaron exudes a warm confidence in his skills and Dan makes you feel like you’ve known him for years – he’s also the one who fuses so many international styles together after ten years of globetrotting. and became the winner after making the most progress in the competition.
Yet once the outcome was known, Twitter began using the phrase “Visible to Liam” after serving a piece of cling film and a lobster gut to Michelin-starred judge Marcus Wareing.
Liam was almost in tears as he listened to Marcus and his fellow judges Gregg Wallace and Monica Galetti congratulate him regardless – he knew deep in his heart that his mistake was like being an Olympic 100m finalist tripping over his own shoelaces.
Dan said: “Although we are all competing, we all supported each other as leaders at the same time and everything could go wrong.
“You can come very close to making huge mistakes and I was able to pick myself up from mine – from now on!
“We were all there together at that time for Liam. Anything can happen in this kitchen and this (mistake) would have been so hard to take.”
Indeed, to reach the final Dan had to overcome Judge Gregg Wallace’s raw chicken – Liam’s misfortune was making his biggest mistake when it mattered most.
Dan said: “Liam made amazing dishes and with his hand on his heart I think he will make it this far, no doubt he is an amazing chef who will come back stronger.”
What’s next for Dan
In the semi-finals of the competition when they were both in the bottom six, Dan and Cannock forager Matt Willdigg revealed they had become best friends considering trying to see s ‘they could merge their expertise to create a new style of cooking.
Now that he’s become the 15th MasterChef: The Professionals champion, Dan – who specializes in blending Cantonese, Chinese, Indonesian and Thai flavors with European influences – said everyone has been asking him what he’s doing. was going to do.
For starters, it will have its own website up and running, hopefully by the end of the year at an address that currently serves as a hold page with the tagline “Something Exciting Is Coming Soon”.
Dan said he would “cook dinners at Lichfield in January” and then look to appear at pop-ups and food festivals early next year, while other plans turn into something. something more permanent.
Longer term, Dan is also looking to ‘reinvent’ street food in Birmingham and has a vision of a ‘truck’ and / or restaurant in the future.
“I hope to be part of the Birmingham scene … I have eaten in restaurants run by (Michelin stars) Aktar Islam and Glynn Purnell, where I have had a little work experience. I don’t know them well. but they are huge inspirations for me. “
In a touching recap of his life to date, the MasterChef Finale began with an overview of Dan’s formative years and featured the Family Dinner at James Wong’s Chung Ying in Chinatown.
The only thing he can’t do is go back to how and when it all started, with his aunt challenging young Dan to “eat fish guts and eyeballs” in his takeout. late grandfather.
Part of his journey through the program included making reference to his influence on his decision to become a chef, but the takeaway is no longer there.
“I don’t even know what Dudley’s address was because it was demolished a long time ago,” Dan said. “I think there are only apartments there now.”
What the judges said
Marcus Wareing, Michelin starred chef: “I think Dan is a fantastic chef. For me he is a star in the making.”
Monica Galetti: “For the three of us, it was such a pleasure to see a chef like you develop, grow and discover who you are. Thank you for sharing this with us.”
Gregg Wallace: “I look down and see the most basic of dishes, but I taste the most exciting and elegant of dishes. It is absolutely delicious. It’s a style that meets East and West and you do it brilliantly. “
Applicants for next year’s series must be Professional Chefs and be 20 years of age or older as of May 1, 2022. The deadline for registration will be April 16, 2022.
To be considered, complete the application form here on the BBC website.
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