How MasterChef Winner Eddie Scott's Childhood Adventures Have Inspired His Culinary Craft
This year’s MasterChef winner, a former marine pilot, hails from Beverley. Eddie Scott tells us why his childhood adventures have inspired his culinary craft, and how marine piloting isn’t all that different to commanding the kitchen
Eddie’s parents were both teachers and he enjoyed long summer holidays in France, soaking up the French cuisine. ‘We didn’t eat out a lot, we actually camped for a month and travelled around France where we used to do a lot of cooking on camp stoves. I think it was my dad who was interested in the classical, regional dishes of France and we used to recreate them. I think that’s what got me into food from a young age,’ he says.
His passion sparked, those summers spent in France only enhanced his eagerness to get creative in the kitchen. ‘The French have a real culture around food, the way food was presented in markets and the amazing selection of fish you could get was great – I found that so exciting,’ he says.
Now based in Yorkshire, Eddie says he can see a similar flair within the county. ‘Yorkshire has got some of the most fantastic restaurants in the country and I do like to eat out as well. Travelling around these beautiful parts of Yorkshire and eating at different restaurants is hugely inspiring and it’s not just that, Yorkshire has some amazing produce too. We have amazing cheese, fish and seafood, as well as great meat,’ Eddie explains.
It’s safe to say sourcing locally is something Eddie holds close to his heart (he lives in Beverley) and when cooking at home he uses ingredients which can be found right on his doorstep. ‘I use all the things around me as much as I can, and I go to the local shops and find things from local producers – and that’s what cooks who are excited about their ingredients do,’ he says. It was therefore no surprise when Eddie took some time off from being a marine pilot to apply to MasterChef. ‘I’ve always watched the show and for years I thought it would be really cool to cook for Greg [Wallace] and John [Torode] and to have fun, experience it and see what I could learn. I thought I could push myself and that’s why I applied – I just thought, why not?’
From day one of the competition Eddie impressed the judges, receiving good feedback for his fig frangipane and almond tart in the first round. ‘I never expected high praise. You don’t realise what your own cooking is like until you cook for professional judges, but I knew my style and the dishes I liked to make and had grown up eating, and did them to the best of my ability,’ he says.
In the quarter final of the competition Eddie produced his own take on classic fish and chips, creating battered hake spiced with garam masala and cumin, chips coated in mango powder, and fennel and ginger peas with a tartare sauce. It was dishes like this (as well as his habit of marrying classic French dishes with Indian spices) which saw Eddie sail through the MasterChef competition to take the winner’s trophy at the end.
‘I never expected to win, even when I reached the final. I just wanted to go in, think carefully about my dishes and cook them to the best of my ability. If you put too much pressure on yourself the cooking starts to become really difficult and you start to make mistakes,’ he admits. ‘The main thing for me was to try and disconnect myself emotionally from the stress and what was at stake, and just concentrate on the moment, cooking the fish and the meat properly and making sure every sauce tasted great.’
Since winning MasterChef, Eddie has retired from his marine pilot position to embark on a new career in the professional kitchen. But, he says the two roles aren’t as different as you might think. ‘They’re probably not that different – being a marine pilot is high pressure and that’s what I’m learning in the professional kitchen. The hours are very long and unsociable but it’s a different type of stress on the ship,’ he says. High levels of precision and following high standards of timing are something Eddie was used to before he went on MasterChef. ‘I started working on ships when I was 18 and I went away for six months, and in the kitchen it’s a very similar feeling, working intensively and in close proximity – I eased into it quite easily,’ he says.
Now, Eddie has the opportunity to work at one of his favourite Yorkshire restaurants, The Pipe and Glass near Beverley, gaining further experience in a professional environment. ‘It’s a wonderful place and I’ve always eaten there. I got a really kind message from James Mackenzie congratulating me and offering me the chance to come over and get some experience, which is amazing,’ Eddie explains. His plan for now is to do just that, working alongside James and his team for three months to familiarise himself with the kitchen and restaurant environment. ‘It’s completely different than cooking at home and what’s important is to find a range of experiences so I can see how different places do things and eventually embark on my own restaurant,’ he says. ‘I worked out my style a long time ago, so it’s just finding out how to run a restaurant and learn those skills.’