Leeds chef’s MasterChef finals bid

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A Leeds chef is battling it out in the kitchen this week as he competes to be named MasterChef: The Professionals champion.

Matt Healy, 33, is one of four finalists in this week’s BBC2 showdown, which begins tonight and ends on Thursday.

Matt, a regional development chef at Rational who lives in Sowerby Bridge, came through six weeks of cook-offs and beat off competition from 44 other contestants.

The winner will get the chance to cook for the Chef’s Table, an annual gathering of Michelin-starred chefs and some of the biggest names in the culinary sector.

“I first became interested in cooking as a young child with my grandma, baking every Sunday. My cousin Anna and I are the only two in the family that took it up as a career, she is an exceptional pastry chef in Newcastle,” said Matt, who lives with his wife Natalie, their two dogs and three cats.

“After leaving high school at 16, I went to Thomas Danby Catering College in Leeds. I thought it was

important, at 16, to be qualified. At that time I didn’t realise that experience counted for much more.

“My biggest influence is my friend and mentor Simon Shaw, owner of El Gato Negro in Manchester. He

taught me about the little details and gave my confidence a massive boost. I love working with Spanish flavours and influences, and really loved a busy service. I’ve realised during my time in the competition just how much I miss the live environment of a busy restaurant. It’s been a real eye-opener.

“I entered the competition because my wife challenged me to. As I’m always criticizing others on cooking shows she called me out! I’ve followed the show for many years and I didn’t know what to expect from MasterChef to start with, but I absolutely loved the experience! Truly awesome.

“The most challenging part of the competition is the very first test, the Skills Test, as you’re walking into the unknown yet it feels so familiar and also The Chef’s Table, where the expectations from so many Michelin star chefs are insane.

“I’m over the moon at getting to the final week. Never in a million years did I think I’d be anywhere good or lucky enough to get here. It’s amazing to see the support I’m getting. People seem to recognise me a bit – maybe it’s the beard or that I’m a bit of a giant – and wish me well in the competition, which is great.”

Matt’s culinary ambitions are to own his own bistro with an ever-changing menu, and to launch a career in the food media through his website and live blog.

Callum Douglas

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