CHATTING FOOD WITH . . .
Alexandra Talbot, MasterChef 2019
We sat down with MasterChef contestant Alexandra Talbot to chat about puddings, her new pop-up Salt Kitchen, and of course MasterChef.
This country loves MasterChef. It has turned into THE cult food TV show of the last decade. How did you feel when you got the call to be on the show?
I was overwhelmed and thrilled to be invited to the show! I have watched avidly for the last 15 years and couldn't believe I had been shortlisted.
What were your highs and lows when in the show?
Cooking in the professional kitchens and with the celebrity Chefs was a real high – where else can you get an opportunity to cook at that level as an amateur? Trying to come up with new menus and ideas whilst juggling work was my biggest challenge as there was no time to practice between each round.
If you had one piece of advice for future contestants, what would it be?
Apply! Be confident… if you love to cook, you know people really love your food, it will shine through, and if you're serious about it, it can change your life!
You've been hailed the "Queen of Puddings". If we could eat one more pudding, what should we have?
I continually get asked to make the chocolate bombe – a thin crisp chocolate shell, filled with an aerated chocolate mousse and a liquid raspberry centre! I usually serve it with meringues and a chestnut ganache and fresh berries. Whether I make it in white or dark chocolate, it's everyone's favourite!
You have joined forces with your fellow contestants Stephen Ford and Thomas Elson-Knight, to create SALT Kitchen. How did you come up with the idea?
We're great friends who share a passion for cooking, and after MasterChef, we just wanted to do more. So we discussed the possibility of doing a couple of pop up dinners and supper clubs together, to test the water and appetite of our followers. The response has been incredible – we're undertaking private dining events for some very high-profile individuals, corporate events and our own pop-ups around the country. We each bring something individual to Salt Kitchen, but together we are an incredible team.
Tell us more, what can we expect to eat?
Stephen is renowned for his bold flavours – there is a lot of Asian influence across his menus, and he is extremely good at balancing spice, heat, acidity etc; Thomas has an adventurous flair – he is probably the most experimental with flavour combinations, he likes to challenge the norm and does it brilliantly, and I'm the pudding girl – who loves to surprise and delight… my dishes need to taste and look fantastic! We challenge each other constantly, which is great and keeps our menus fresh and innovative.
Guests at our pop-ups can enjoy dishes such as risotto nero, filet of hake with a dill emulsion, pan-seared duck breast with a panko hen yolk, dressed in orange and a duck Vincotto sauce, and for dessert, a cocoa bean bombe filled with a decadent chocolate mousse and a raspberry core.
Where will your pop-ups be held?
We already have events scheduled in Bath, Caerphilly and Surrey and are releasing new dates all the time! We're hoping to announce dates in Bristol, Devon, Hampshire and London very soon and will be updating our website www.saltkitchen.co.uk and Instagram pages @saltkitchen with more information
What is the food dream?
The dream is to be able to share our passion for cooking with as many people are possible, far and wide! We love to innovate and challenge ourselves all the time. If all three of us could make a living doing this as a team, full-time, it would be incredible.
A Quick Chat
Your favourite restaurant? Scully's Mayfair
Food Hero? Raymond Blanc and his puds
Favourite Ingredient? Agar Agar
What will be the next food trend? More innovative plant-based food
Worst food trend? Meat made from bugs!
Guilty Food Pleasure? Cheese
MasterChef 2019 semi-finalist, private chef and food writer Alexandra Talbot is available for private dining, events and menu development. For more information check her out on Instagram: @alexandratalbotcooks