A YOUNG chef described appearing on TV’s MasterChef as the scariest thing she had ever done.
Nat Tallents, 26, of Linthwaite, was chosen from thousands of hopefuls to compete on the programme.
Nat, head chef at Neaversons Tea House and Restaurant in Byram Street, Huddersfield, was one of 40 to make it through to the latest series of MasterChef: The Professionals.
She sailed through the first round on Monday but went out last night as her cooking crumbled under pressure.
“When you see it on TV you think ‘I can do that’ but there is massive pressure,” said Nat. “It’s terrifying.”
Nat, a waitress-turned-chef who has no formal training, kept her nerve in the skills test to prepare a hollandaise sauce and go through to cook for double Michelin starred chef Michel Roux Jr.
She had to re-create Roux’s Beaujolais berry jelly with a classic crème anglaise – posh jelly and custard – then prepare her own dish, stuffed rabbit, but that was where it all went wrong.
“Michel’s round was the scariest thing ever,” said Nat. “He is the rock star of the cooking world and having his presence in the room knocked me for six.”
Nat failed with the custard which wasn’t fit to serve.
She told Roux: “I have messed up and I am not going to feed it to you.”
Things were no better with the ballotine of rabbit which always wins compliments at Neaversons.
“I got halfway through the preparation when I realised I had over-complicated it and would run out of time,” said Nat. “Then I just panicked.
“I plated it up and presented it. Michel asked me about it and I said I didn’t like it. He said he didn’t like it either!”
Nat knew then her chances were toast and she hopes people won’t be too harsh after seeing what happens on TV.
“People might think I was rubbish but the pressure is unbelievable,” she said.
“All the tension you see on TV is real, it’s not put on.
“It was a fantastic experience and one that’s not going to knock my confidence. Just for me to be there was brilliant.”
Nat always liked cooking but had never considered being a chef as a career until she was 22.
She was working as a waitress when she decided to switch to the kitchen.
She took a pay cut to take a job as a lowly commis chef but quickly worked her way up.
“I have a real passion for food and I love being a chef,” said Nat, who also runs her own private dining company.
“To cook for someone like Michel Roux Jr is the opportunity of a lifetime and something I never thought I would do.
“I was up against trained chefs who had worked here, there and everywhere so I did well just to be chosen to take part. I didn’t want to be first to go – and I wasn’t.
“The competition isn’t about how good a chef you are, it’s about how you cope with the pressure.
“It’s taught me a lot and I am more fired up than ever.”