We’re proud to announce that two of our apprentices made the MasterChef professionals finals this year – with Charlie Jeffreys just missing out on the winning title.
Charlie, 24, was an apprentice with HIT at Yalbury Cottage Hotel, Dorset, and served up an incredible three-course menu to judges Gregg Wallace, Anna Haugh and Marcus Wareing in the grand finale of the contest.
James Checkley, who completed a professional cookery apprenticeship with HIT in 2018, made it to the semi-finals where contestants, including Charlie, faced a gruelling test to cook at the chef’s table in front of 20 culinary heavyweights with nearly two dozen Michelin stars between them. These included star chefs Jason Atherton, Monica Galetti, Lisa Goodwin-Allen and Matt Abé.
We can’t tell you how thrilled we were to watch both Charlie and James putting their cooking skills to the ultimate test in one of the toughest culinary competitions going.
The show, MasterChef: The Professionals, is a spin-off of the original MasterChef series in which 32 professional chefs go head-to-head to become the next champion chef.
Although both Charlie and James wowed the judges, it was 25-year-old Nikita Pathajki who clinched the winning title.
Since completing his chef apprenticeship aged 18, Charlie has taken the culinary world by storm and now works as Senior Chef de Partie for 3 Michelin-starred restaurant The Dorchester Hotel in London.
James, 34, is Head Chef at The Galley Restaurant, Topsham, near Exeter. He previously worked as head chef of Paschoe House Hotel in Crediton and The Coach House by Michael Caines in Barnstaple. He also won Best Dish in the South West Chef of the Year Awards.
Both chefs credit their apprenticeships with kick-starting their careers and say they wouldn’t be where they are today without such a life-changing opportunity.
At the time of his apprenticeship, Charlie told HIT: “Apprenticeships are such an amazing route to take if you are thinking about a career as a chef. They teach you so much and give you that extra confidence boost when you receive your completion certificates. I certainly feel as though I have gained lifelong skills.”
Charlie’s Training Consultant Hannah Darch remembers Charlie as a passionate chef who was incredibly driven.
“I messaged him when he made the MasterChef final to say congratulations,” says Hannah. “He said on the show that he dreamed of opening his own restaurant in Dorset and I told him I hope to go there one day! We are so proud of what he has achieved.”
It’s not the first time HIT has made Masterchef headlines. In 2020, Nottingham chef and former HIT apprentice Louisa Ellis packed a flavoursome punch in MasterChef The Professionals: A Festive Knockout to win the coveted crown.
She wowed judges in the Christmas leftovers’ skills test by rustling up an apple and pear tarte tatin with a brandy flavoured creme anglaise in just 30 minutes. Louisa also came runner up in the 2017 series of MasterChef Professionals.
Louisa completed her Level 3 apprenticeship with HIT in 2015 at New Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield and says her apprenticeship with HIT set her up for success.
Congratulating Charlie and James on their win, Louisa, now 27 and running her own private dining company, told HIT:
“I know from experience it is one of the most challenging competitions the culinary world has to offer. They should both be really proud!”