Catering Scotland

The Big Interview

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The Big Interview

The Big Interview
March 19
09:12 2015

Ellis Mack caught up with long-standing contact Brian McLeish – still buzzing from his recent success as runner-up on Master Chef the Professionals – and spoke to him about his new role as chef/proprietor at www.moonfishcafe.co.uk in Aberdeen.

 

EM: Had you always planned to be a chef?

BM: I never set out to be. My Uncle was one, however, and so I thought I’d give it a go. I enjoyed the team work and camaraderie and I was working with a good bunch of lads whilst I was training, so it just fitted.

 

EM: How did Master Chef come about and did you enjoy the experience?  

BM: It was an online application, followed by a selection process which included a screen test in London.

You had to know your stuff for the four-stage interview process or you would never have made it through to the next stage.

The live show was my first experience in front of the camera. I was very nervous but I could see everyone else was the same, so I just tried to channel my concentration and focus on the task in hand.

 

EM: What was the most nerve-wracking part?

BM: The Croq en Bouche; I’d never done it before and never would again! It was definitely where I felt the most pressure. Other than that I was quite comfortable.

 

EM: What are your views on current food trends?

BM: I believe it’s important to keep up with emerging trends, even if you don’t like them. Personally, I’m a big fan of Nordic food, a lot of which is driven around the notion of vegetables replacing proteins.

In general, I prefer underrated restaurants over Michelin-starred establishments, and likewise the chefs I look up to tend to be the ones who prepare simple, honest cuisine and who avoid messing about with foams, gums, powders, etc.

 

EM: What do you think about the explosion of cooking TV programs? Are there too many these days?

BM: If done well they can create and encourage interest in the sector, and they can help customers become more knowledgeable about food.

Masterchef is obviously my favourite but I also like the Great British Bake Off, which I think could benefit from a professional version of the format.

 

EM: Who would you have in your dinner party dream team?

BM: That’s a tough one. Probably Marcus Wareing, Nathan Outlaw and my grandparents! It’s a strange mix but at least it doesn’t include any of my mates; they’ve no interest in cooking whatsoever.

 

EM: Describe yourself in three words

BM: Honest, grounded, hard-working.

 

EM: Any kitchen mishaps that made you cry?

BM: Yes. When I was younger I moved to a 140-seater Michelin-Starred restaurant in London. It was a very aggressive, competitive kitchen culture. I questioned myself and my abilities constantly, and I even considered chucking in the idea of being a chef altogether. Soon after, I moved back to Scotland and realised I had just been in the wrong environment. It was all good from then on!

 

EM: Guilty food pleasure?

BM: Takeaway pizza; Can’t beat it!

 

EM: Marco Pierre White Vs Gordon Ramsay: Who’ d win in a fight?

BM:  Marco. He’s an absolute bear!

 

EM: Who do you most admire in the catering world?

BM: Nathan Outlaw and Marcus Wareing. Good, honest chefs!

 

EM: How have you found the post-Masterchef experience, and what does the future hold?

BM: It definitely opened doors for me and I would recommend it to any ambitious chef. There are both upsides and downsides to it, naturally, although the good parts definitely outweigh the bad.

That said, it’s not for everyone, as it could prove a double-edged sword if went drastically wrong.

As for the future, Moonfish is a thriving business and with it I feel I’ve helped put Aberdeen on the culinary map. Long may this continue!

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Catering Scotland

Catering Scotland

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