A young Shrewsbury-based chef said he had an “amazing experience” in reaching the quarter finals of hit TV show MasterChef: The Professionals.
Neil Roberts is a Junior Sous Chef at the four-star Mercure Shrewsbury Albrighton Hall Hotel and Spa, which is managed by Focus Hotel Management.
The talented 20-year-old found himself competing against some of Britain’s best professional chefs during his time on the popular TV show.
And, of course, he faced his food being scrutinised by the judges, Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, highly-regarded chef Monica Galetti and MasterChef mainstay Gregg Wallace.
Neil made it to the quarter-finals of the competition, which he said he had “entered on a whim”, and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Neil was born in South Africa and has lived in Wales for the past five years.
His father and great-grandfather were both chefs, and he said: “It runs in my blood.
“Ever since I started school, being a chef was all I could ever see myself doing.”
He finished school at 16 and started an apprenticeship.
Despite his age, he already has a wealth of experience behind him, from a small country house hotel in Wales, whose head chef was a big influence on him, to a six-month stint at a restaurant in Melbourne which is regularly named among the top ten restaurants in Australia.
When MasterChef announced they were looking for Professionals for their 12th series, Neil put in an application, and was then selected.
He said: “It was the most pressure I have ever been under. I did not realise how much pressure it would be.
“But the experience of working with different chefs and the feedback from such well-known judges has been absolutely incredible.
“Doing something like this means putting your reputation on the line. Doing it so early in my career meant I had nothing to lose really, so there was no better time to do it.
“It is a massive judge of character and was an amazing experience.”
Jennifer Sibbald-Wall, Manager of the Albrighton Hall Hotel & Spa, said; “We are all extremely proud of Neil.
“I think nerves may have got the better of him in the end, but he is only 20 and I have no doubt that he is definitely one to watch for the future.
“We are very proud and fortunate to have Neil as part of our team here.”
Focus Hotel Management is a leading independent hospitality management company with a portfolio of 15 hotels open, under development and in planning totalling 1,597 bedrooms.