Taking part in a TV cooking competition can be a career boost for successful chefs. I’m an avid fan of the BBC’s Masterchef series, which has been franchised around the world and spawned a variety of similar programmes. In the UK there are three contest strands: amateur cooks, ‘The Professionals’, and celebrities. I don’t bother with the latter and, although I am often amazed at the culinary excellence of home cooks, it’s the professionals series that I most enjoy.
I think it takes guts for a pro chef, who is employed in a restaurant, to put themselves out there and possibly expose any culinary shortcomings. If these chefs fail to impress – and have to hang up their aprons in the early stages of the competition – do their employers think of replacing them?
For stand-out chefs, opportunities abound – even if they don’t win. And there are three examples of TV-contest success on Mallorca.
Marta Rosselló was a young contestant on the second series of Top Chef, on the Spanish TV channel Antena 3. Then aged 27 (although she looks younger), Marta was already at the helm of her own restaurant Sal de Cocó – but the TV exposure during the competition can only have been good for business. Sal de Cocó moved from a back-street location to a prime position in the port of her home Colonia de Sant Jordi.
A British Masterchef contestant – one of three finalists in the pro competition in 2011 – landed a superb opportunity on Mallorca. On the programme, Claire Hutchings‘s chocolate sorbet impressed judge Michel Roux Jr so much that he asked for the recipe. Praise indeed. By coincidence, Fernando P Arellano (who owns the restaurant Zaranda on Mallorca) had once worked for Roux Jr and soon Claire had packed her bags and moved to the island to join the Spanish chef’s kitchen.
Claire is now sous chef at Zaranda, which gained a second Michelin star for 2016. Earlier this week I spotted her with Fernando on an episode of cookery competition Cuina i Guanya on Mallorca’s IB3 TV. The grand final of this series was on 11th September, 2016.
The Spanish cooking programme Top Chef had a German winner last year. Marcel Ress had worked on Mallorca with Marc Fosh at the Michelin-starred Bacchus restaurant (now closed) and, after a period working back in Germany, he returned to the island in 2009, to work at Simply Fosh (now renamed Marc Fosh).
After winning the Spanish TV cooking programme, Marcel left the Palma restaurant to find new opportunities arising from his success. He now divides his team between the kitchens of Villa Wesco Mallorca (where he does showcooking and classes) and had a pop-up lunch restaurant (Vérd in the heart of Palma) last summer. Top Chef published his book Las recetas de Marcel Ress shortly after the chef won the competition. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s next for Marcel!