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10 burning foodie questions with… MasterChef winner Thomas Frake

by Helena Lang
10 burning foodie questions with… MasterChef winner Thomas Frake
Masterchef winner Thomas Frake

We put MasterChef 2020 champ Thomas Frake through his paces with all the big foodie questions of the day...

1. Takeaway or fakeaway?

Takeaway. The reason is because some of the takeaways, especially in London where we are spoilt, are the best places to find authentic cuisine. I live in Tooting in south London, and we have great Sri Lankan, South Asian and Keralan restaurants that we get our takeaways from. The food is incredible, and I couldn’t begin to try to recreate them or fake their influence and understanding.

2. What’s your signature dish?

Roast dinner. That’s the meal my family ask me to cook the most. My girlfriend’s father is a very high-end Japanese sushi chef and he says my roast dinner is second to none!

3. What’s your most treasured cookbook?
I think it has to be Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. This was a secret, but this book really helped me with MasterChef – I don’t memorise recipes as such, but I memorise how recipes are made and the ratios behind them. So, once you know the ratio for bread, you can make any kind of loaf, or custard or sauce for instance. That’s how I built up my repertoire for MasterChef - it was working with ratios not recipes and is how my brain works, very compartmentalised. This book really did change my world.
4. Starter or dessert?

Starter, which is often the best bit of a meal. Though now I think about it, when I’m in a restaurant I will always look at the desserts first and then work backwards.

5. What’s your last supper dish?

It would probably have to be a stew of some sort: a big bowl of ridiculously unctuous soft braised meat. That’s my comfort food.

6. Name the ingredient you can’t live without

There are two. Lemon – a super ingredient for everything, I use it for seasoning and to add acidity to grilled meat and fish; it brings food to life. I also love smoked salt and the flavour that brings to meat and vegetables.

7. Any kitchen disasters to share?

Plenty! One that stands out is when I was preparing for MasterChef and was making sticky toffee pudding very early on in the competition and was practising at home. I usually use a food processor, but it was in the dishwasher, so I pulled out my NutriBullet. Part of the recipe is steeping dates in hot water and then blending that altogether, and I didn’t appreciate that the pressure would build up in the blender, and the whole thing exploded when I turned the lid. We actually had to repaint the kitchen.

8. What’s your guilty food pleasure?

I am an absolute sucker for ice cream. It’s my Achilles’ heel. I will not share it. My nan was addicted to it, so maybe it’s inherited.

9. Which food trend would you like to see the back of?

I’ve actually got a list! Bao buns. Don’t really understand or like them. I don’t really understand beef wellingtons either. Steak gets so much flavour from its crust and then you undo all that and wrap it in pastry.

10. Pineapple on pizza. Yes or no?

I’m not a fan. I’m more purist than that. I like cheese, tomato, freshly torn basil. Occasionally I might add a bit of sausage or chicken but that’s it.

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