MasterChef challenge ahead for top Tweed chef
FROM the kitchen of famed Cabarita restaurant Paper Daisy, chef Ben Devlin has created a masterful reputation.
Young and determined, Queensland's Chef of the Year in 2014 has led the Halcyon House restaurant to numerous awards, including a regional restaurant of the year nod in an impressive career.
In perhaps his greatest challenge yet, Devlin will put his reputation on the line on Channel Ten series MasterChef on Tuesday night against an amateur intent on taking down Devlin in a one-hour cook-off for elimination immunity.
Rather than run from the pressure of the clock and cameras, Devlin thrives on it.
"You need to find your own mental space and you need to be quite clever with choices,” Devlin said of his approach.
"I don't think too much about the cameras and people yelling, I just focus on what I'm doing. There's pressure going around, but the only way you're going to succeed in that is having a focus on what you're doing.
"When you have limited time, you need to think within the restrictions and also try to be as creative as possible. There's a few things to navigate. You run around and it gets your mind moving fast, but I find that environment enjoyable.”
Pressure is something that Devlin has had to navigate throughout his career in the fast-paced world of food. In a true master versus apprentice battle, Devlin's opponent will have a 15-minute headstart after choosing between three different pairs of ingredients to make a dish.
Although he doesn't know beforehand what the ingredients will be, Devlin feels well-prepared for whatever is thrown at him.
"It's a tricky one; savoury can be easier, (while) desserts are a little bit more regimented. I'm pretty fortunate, though, that I've worked in bakeries, pastry kitchens, seafood and with meat, and feel comfortable in most areas,” Devlin said.
"On my computer I have every menu Paper Daisy has ever done, so I went back through them and studied them and the combo's I'd used to jog my memory a bit.”
Regardless of the outcome, Devlin said the chance to appear on the hit show under the watchful eye of judges Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston, and mentor Shannon Bennett, was an exciting proposition.
"They (amateurs) certainly do win from time to time but, as a competitive person, you always want to go out there and come away on top,” he said.
"But, I'm still reasonably young in my career and every time we find ourselves in the company of more established chefs, it's crazy.
"You don't think of yourself anywhere near those guys, but being mentioned with them is a pretty spectacular experience.”
- MasterChef screens on Channel Ten and WIN on Tuesday, June 27 at 7.30pm