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Two minutes with Olivia Burt, MasterChef: The Professionals & Claridge’s

Published 1 April 2020

For this week’s Careers Q&A, we speak to Olivia Burt MasterChef: The Professionals 2019 finalist and sous chef at Claridge’s hotel. From the best advice she’s received to the best advice she has to offer, Olivia chats to us about her career thus far and how she’s managed to find the silver lining of being a chef in isolation.

When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality and where/how did you get your start?

I don’t think there was a time when I suddenly realised that I wanted to career in hospitality. I knew that I wanted to cook and I think that was pretty much it. I left school solely wanting to do a ski season and cook, and at that point I don’t think I realised how much I would love it.

Who has been influential on your career and why?

Simon Rogan has been super influential. I worked for him for three years when I first moved to London and his style has been very inspiring for me. 

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your career so far?

The most rewarding part has been helping my younger colleagues in the kitchen, helping them to learn and express themselves in the correct way. Inspiring people to cook more and enjoy being in the kitchen as much as I do. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Keep your head down and always stay focused. The hard work will pay off and when it does it will be worth it. You were born with the talent to cook. Never stop cooking.” 

And what’s your advice for someone starting out?

I think my main piece of advice would be to find a kitchen that you love and the rest will take care of itself. Stick to it because there will undoubtedly be bad days mixed in with the good. Just make sure that you are learning every day.

Who would you identify as a rising star?

There are so many in the hospitality industry that is it hard to pick one. I just want to continue on my crazy journey and help as many other women get to the top of their game as possible. 

Now we all have more time on our hands, what do you do to combat boredom?

Having all this time off is a luxury for all the chefs. Honestly, I rarely get bored, I spend about 80 per cent of my day in the kitchen cooking and taking time to experiment and learn. Even though at work I would normally be in the kitchen every day, having time to cook by myself is extremely rare. 

Give us your top three recommendations of what to watch, read or listen to.

If you haven’t watched Chef’s Table on Netflix it is so worth it. I binge watched it when it first came out and it’s amazing. Follow your favourite chefs on social media and check out their home cooking videos too. I love reading all the cookbooks I used to be addicted to when I was younger (mostly baking) and just making cakes. Mary Berry is my favourite!

What’s your go-to meal when you’re at home?

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and as a chef I often miss it. When I’m home I love to prepare it specially. My dream breakfast is coconut and quinoa porridge, with roasted hazelnut butter, flax seeds and fresh raspberries. 

Any tips for the housebound cook?

Keep track of what you have in your cupboard – knowing what you need to buy and use will help you reduce wastage in the home kitchen. Make sure you are enjoying what you are cooking, I think that is the most important part! Soon I will be virtually welcoming people into my home kitchen, to share my best everyday tips and recipes.  

What’s your latest cooking discovery?

I think my latest discovery are nut butters. I have been trying to eat less bad sugars recently, I have the worst sweet tooth, and I’ve been experimenting with new healthier options. I’ll share my own nut butter recipe soon. 

Where’s your first meal out of isolation going to be?

Honestly, I don’t know where to start! I think it will have to be Adam Byatt’s Trinity in Clapham. All the dishes on the menu are extremely appealing and you know exactly what you are getting. It will definitely be followed by weeks of eating out and appreciating everything magical that restaurants bring to life.

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