Tony Rodd MasterChef 2015 Finalist Interview
I first saw Tony Rodd on MasterChef and first time I saw the desserts he produced, you could tell he was a very good chef! Greg Wallace named him “The Master Chocolatier” and you can see why!
Tony is an inspiration to me as he is someone that came from a non professional chef but plates his dishes with delicate presentation, making them look incredible.
He follows the chefs that plate dishes to his liking and also buys cook books that show high quality images, it then naturally took him a lot of practice. After plenty of practice he then took the next step which is finding your own style and testing different dishes.
I can only imagine the amount of work Tony put in during the show but by the looks of it he is putting even more work into after the show. He has set up his own private catering business, where he will cook private dinners for his client.
When Did You First Have An Interest Cooking?
Eating was always my first passion. I grew up in a family where big meals were about bringing people together. I realised in my late teens that if I wanted to keep eating good food I’d better learn to cook. Cooking became a pastime, how I’d relax after work, and a way to spend my time with friends and family.
How Long Have You Been Cooking Professionally?
I started cooking professionally a year ago, after the finals of MasterChef. I had been receiving various offers and decided to explore these further. A year on and I haven’t stopped. I’ve been cooking private dinners, supper clubs and corporate parties.
Where Do You Get Your Inspiration From?
I look to classic recipes for inspiration. I like to take flavour combinations that are tried and tested and play with texture, presentation and technique to create a new dish. I also read cook books from world class chefs such as Michel Roux Junior, the team at Eleven Madison Park and many of the Scandinavian restaurants that are taking the culinary world by storm.
What Was Your Best Bit of MasterChef?
The whole experience was fantastic but there were two highlights that really stand out for me. Our team challenge, cooking for the Red Arrows was brilliant as I worked with the other contestants and we did a great job. I was so proud of the food we produced especially considering the conditions. Stockholm was without doubt the other highlight. Working with Anton and Jakob at Gastrologic really opened my eyes to how chefs approach produce and create menus. It was an amazing experience.
How Would You Describe Your Cooking Style?
I try to use only the best seasonal produce and am very conscious of how food is grown, reared and treated. My style is probably best described as modern European, with influence from the French and British classics. My desserts are playful and often involve chocolate work, something I forged a reputation for in the show.
What Course Do You Prefer To Cook?
I enjoy cooking all courses but love working with meat. I’m fascinated with how the body works and butchery is something I work hard at. You can get so many different flavours from one animal just by choosing different cuts of meat. I think it’s very important to respect the animal, waste nothing and show off the meat in a natural manner.
What Is Your Favourite Dish/Signature Dish to Make?
I’m probably best known for my desserts, despite the fact that I don’t really have a sweet tooth! My “caramel frappuccino” dish is often requested and is a fun take on the coffee shop drink. It contains a mousse filled chocolate tube, biscotti, a crumb, an ice cream, gel, chantilly and sugar work, all balanced carefully to create an exciting dessert.
What Ingredient Do You Love To Cook With The Most?
Ingredients change with the season, as does my love for them. I tend to find I work with one ingredient intensively for a few months while it’s at it’s best. Earlier this year, butternut squash featured in about six of my dishes and I’d cooked it in more ways than I can remember. Now the asparagus season is starting, that will be a star of many menus.
What Inspired You To Enter MasterChef 2015?
I entered MasterChef for a laugh. I’d never intended on quitting my job or changing my lifestyle but wanted to have some fun and experience the show from the other side of the screen. Having been told by my friends, following a dinner party or meal, that I should enter the show, I started to think that maybe it was worth a try. The rest, as they say, is history.
Which Other Chefs Inspire You?
Michel Roux Junior has, and always will be, my hero, but I also look up to chefs like Massimo Bottura for his playful nature with food, Anton Bjuhr and Jacob Holmstrom for their approach to ingredients and Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti for their drive. Anton Piotrowski who won the pros a few years ago and Tom Kerridge are up there with the best of them and there are so many more I’ve not mentioned!
Any Advice You Would Give To People Wanting To Become A Chef?
You have to be truly passionate to be a chef. The hours are long, conditions hard and money low. You’re also not appreciated by your guests as you’re hidden away in a hot kitchen. If, however, you love food, enjoy creating new masterpieces and live to entertain, give it a go.
Anything You Would Like To Share, IE New Book? Development At Restaurant etc?
My new book is due out in late summer and my website, www.welldressedplates.com has dates of all my supper clubs, food festival appearances and details on how to get in touch to book me for a private meal of your own.
I would personally like to thank Tony for taking the time to do this interview, he really is a great guy and an incredible chef!
I cannot wait to get his book when its released as it looks excellent and just what i’ll be after!
Please follow him on Twitter and Facebook to keep updated on what he is up to 🙂