Mark Stinchcombe, 28, has been crowned winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2015, it was announced today (THURS).
Mark is the ninth champion to carry off the title, joining the ranks of exceptional past winners; Derek Johnstone, Steve Groves, Claire Lara, Ash Mair, joint winners Keri Moss and Anton Piotrowski, Steven Edwards and last year’s winner Jamie Scott.
After battling 47 chefs, seven weeks of incredible cooking and culinary challenges, and a sensational final cook-off, his title was awarded by judges: double Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing, chef Monica Galetti and MasterChef’s seasoned diner, Gregg Wallace.
A very emotional Mark Stinchcombe said: “I can’t believe it. I’m massively proud of what I’ve achieved; it’s been such a long journey. It’s been phenomenal.”
He continued: “From the start I’ve always been the pretty stern one, so you’ve got some emotion out of me now!”
Monica Galetti said: “Mark’s food is fabulous. This chef just continued to stun and wow us. I think he has got such a great future ahead of him.”
Marcus Wareing added: “Mark is a star-quality chef who has delivered at such high levels all the way through the competition. He’s a very, very solid talented cook.”
He continued: “What a talent. I know one thing, if that chef ever opened up his own restaurant I would love to be the first customer.”
Talking at the final cook-off, Gregg Wallace said: “It has been a fantastic competition and this today has been a celebration of culinary art.”
He continued: “Mark really showed his class here today. It was off the scale.”
Throughout the final week Mark beat off extremely tough competition from fellow finalists Nick Bennett, 27, and Scott Barnard, 33, and had to fully demonstrate his creativity, skill and determination as this year’s outstanding finalists undertook serious challenges that pushed them to their culinary limits.
These included: designing and preparing a Michelin-standard dish each for twenty-two world-renowned and critically acclaimed Michelin-starred chefs; and travelling to Alba in Northern Italy to cook at one of the world’s most cutting edge and up and coming three Michelin starred restaurants, under inspiring Head Chef Enrico Crippa.
The final task was to prepare a three-course meal for judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace. Mark’s winning menu consisted of a starter of Roasted Scallops, with fresh peas, pea puree, pea foam, charred baby leeks, dried Serrano ham and a roasted lemon puree finished with a ‘buttermilk snow’, a main course of Fillet of Beef with a bone marrow crust and glazed beef short rib, served with heritage carrots – salt-baked, roasted, candied and pickled - a charcoal emulsion and a bone marrow sauce, and
a dessert of Elderflower Panna cotta, toped with a vanilla parfait, wrapped in strawberry jelly, poached strawberries, granola, yoghurt and gooseberry jelly, served with a strawberry sorbet and candy floss, and finished with a gooseberry sauce.
Talking to Mark after tasting his winning menus Monica Galetti said: ”When you’ve added the extra touches that are you, you elevate your cooking and it leaves a really big smile on my face.”
Marcus Wareing said: “The one thing that we really love about creativity and restauranting, and delivering plates of food is the fantastic theatre that comes with it – you certainly delivered that today.”
He added: “From your very first dish that you presented to us, I knew you were going to be in the final. I can smell a good chef when there’s one in front of me, and you are a very good chef; you are going to be a star of the future.”
Mark, who was born in Bath, Somerset, first became interested in cooking at school:
“I had an amazing home ec teacher called Mrs May, I then went on to do work experience in a hotel in Bath when I was 16 and a half. My uncle was a great cook, and bought me my first set of knives.”
Mark then decided to train professionally.
“I love everything about cooking, from pastry, to starters and mains, but I also like the theatre that goes with the dining experience.”
Speaking on his MasterChef journey Mark said: “I decided to enter the competition in order to push myself outside the comfort zone of being behind the stove and to showcase my food.”
He continued: “It’s been such a tiring, exhausting, emotional but fun ride; an incredible competition that will open many doors.
“My most challenging moment in the competition has to be the first day. It’s always going to be the scariest; you walk in and there’s Gregg, Monica and Marcus.. it doesn’t get tougher than that!
“The critic’s round was pretty hard, it’s really difficult to produce such quality in such a short amount of time for some of the best critics in Britain.
“There’s been so many highlights during the series, but my standout has to be in Knockout Week when we cooked as a team at the Law Society. It was amazing to work alongside the guys and incredible afterwards when all five of us made it through the cook–off to the Semi Finals. The food everyone was producing was outstanding.”
Mark is currently working as Head Chef at Eckington Manor in Eckington, Worcestershire, where he lives and works with his wife Sue.
Of dreams for the future Mark said: “My ambition is to run a highly acclaimed restaurant in Britain, and to one day have a Michelin star, but I think the most important thing is to have happy customers, and to be happy in the way I cook.”
He added: “Firstly though, Sue and I got married in October, and after the crazy year we’ve had we are taking a break and going on honeymoon!”