Against the backdrop of a hospitality industry in crisis, Alex Webb has risen to become the 14th professional chef to be awarded the prestigious title of MasterChef the Professionals.
He takes his place in MasterChef history alongside other exceptional champions: Laurence Henry; Craig Johnston; Gary Maclean; Derek Johnstone; Steve Groves; Claire Lara; Ash Mair, joint winners Keri Moss and Anton Piotrowski; Steven Edwards; Jamie Scott; Mark Stinchcombe and last year’s winner, Stu Deeley.
Alex took on 31 fellow professional chefs in the quest for gastronomic glory, cooking his way through six increasingly intense weeks of culinary challenges and producing outstanding dishes along the way.
Alex impressed Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing, renowned chef Monica Galetti and MasterChef’s seasoned judge Gregg Wallace, from the start with his elegant dishes bringing a little bit of style and theatre to the competition. He also received high praise from critics and top UK chefs during the competition including at the Chef’s Table where Anna Haugh described his dish as ‘perfect in every single way’ while Aktar Islam called it ‘incredible’.
Reacting to his win, Alex said: “It is the best feeling I have ever had in my life. To walk away with the trophy is incredible. I am so proud.”
Marcus Wareing said: “Today was Alex’s finest day. We have seen a young chef come of age. He is a brilliant young chef, I love his thirst for knowledge, and he has cooked beyond his years. MasterChef is about the next generation and for me as a chef I see Alex as the future.”
In a punishing Final Week, Alex was up against extraordinary chefs and he had to use every ounce of skill, grit and creativity to outshine his competitors in rounds of increasing difficulty and pressure, which pushed the nerve and culinary ability of the chefs to extremes. The challenges included: creating and delivering a Michelin-standard dish for eight international culinary titans working in Britain today and following on from this exhilarating experience, he had to then summon huge amounts of passion and emotion to cook a dish Dedicated to Someone Special, his Grandad.
Monica Galetti said: “Alex’s food has a cheeky sense of humour in it. There is a bit of Alex’s youth which comes through in his cooking which makes it very different and that is something I have really enjoyed.”
Gregg Wallace added: “He has a sense of fun our Alex, and when he brings a little bit of theatre into it he hits notes of absolute brilliance. He combines good cooking with style and theatre and he ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to brilliant fine dining.”
The competition reached its ultimate level for the finalists, when they were asked to create their last menu and deliver the best three-courses of their lives for judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace, in three hours and 15 minutes.
Emphasising his menu had all of his “heart and soul on a plate”, Alex started with a scallop ceviche with an artichoke and pickled pear tartare, yoghurt foam, parsley powder and crispy capers finished with a watercress oil. Marcus said: “You are very brave…the watercress oil is a point of genius, it works a treat. I could eat that all day long”.
Alex’s main was pan seared trout, with parsnip crisps, parsnip coleslaw, roasted parsnip, parsley gel and a parsnip puree, finished with a mussel and caviar cream sauce, served with a mini potato fish pie topped with caviar and parsley powder. Monica reacted saying: “It is just fabulous.”
Finishing his winning menu was a White chocolate and passionfruit dome, with passionfruit pearls, a prosecco sorbet on a feuilletine and dark chocolate base served with a passionfruit cocktail and passionfruit powder party poppers. On tasting Alex’s dessert, Gregg told him: “I have nothing to do here but heap praise on your lap, for me with this dessert you have covered yourself in glory.”
Born and bred in Essex, Alex works as Head Chef in the restaurant he started as a pot wash when he was 15. Looking back at how it all started for him he said: “When he was a young chef I thought the only competition I could really do was MasterChef and now I am a MasterChef: The Professionals Champion, it is a day all my chef dreams have come true.”
He trained at Westminster Kingsway College and was hugely influenced by fellow Essex chef Jamie Oliver as well as his current boss Spencer Hewitt. Alex likes to create traditional French dishes and put his own twist and sense of fun on them.
On his MasterChef: The Professionals experience, Alex said: “I decided to enter MasterChef because I wanted to see how far I could go; winning is something I will always be very proud of. I really wanted it and all the blood sweat and tears, and sleepless nights have paid off.”
Speaking about his next steps, Alex said: “I want to enjoy the moment and make the most of all the opportunities which may be out there. I have lots of ideas for a book and I really enjoyed the experience of being in front of the camera so would like to look into any chances there may be to do more of this. I will continue to work in the restaurant I do now, and I would like to keep learning and pushing myself. Then, hopefully one day, I will be able to achieve my big dream of owning my own restaurant.”