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Bearsted golfer James Skelton’s journey to BBC One’s MasterChef semi-finals

A golf pro has described his “amazing” journey to the semi-finals of MasterChef.

James Skelton spoke to Kent Online about his “incredible experience” so far and has made “friends for life” in the hit BBC One show which airs tonight.

James Skelton talks about his MasterChef experience

The home-taught cook from Bearsted is one of the 10 remaining contestants in this year’s competition and he has impressed judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace with his traditional style of British dishes.

With recipes such as a mouth-watering flaky baked crusted cod, to roasted bay leaf scallop, the golf coach has stayed the course in the battle to become the next top chef in the country.

James, 38, had his first swing as a culinary artist after he visited Italy in his early 20s. He said: “The whole Italian scene and the food and the people are just fantastic.

“I think it was just that sort of experience in how they sort of embrace food into their culture, you sit down as a family, you eat for a long time, if you’re having one or two courses that’s frowned upon.”

The dad-of-two has impressed judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode

It was this experience which led dad-of-two James to experiment more with different flavors and recipes.

From clubs and caddies to pots and pans, he has continued to edge past competition with a cool head and a smile.

He added: “I’ve played in golf tournaments, you feel the pressure with that and you obviously want to perform.

“It’s similar but so different in sort of other ways, I think my goal when I go on is to try to focus and make sure that my timings are as good as I can get them.”

James has immersed himself in the show so far which saw him achieve his first goal of getting an apron. Another big highlight for the cook has been meeting the show judges.

MasterChef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace
MasterChef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace

He added: “They’ve got amazing palates, and for them to say ‘we like your flavours’, ‘we love what you’re doing’, it’s an amazing feeling because that to me is what you do cooking and food for. You want to bring joy to people.”

James, whose favorite dish to prepare is a beef Wellington, has soaked up all the support he has been given from “all over the world.”

He said: “It’s been crazy, but the support and messages on some of the local hubs have been incredible, so just a massive thanks due, to anyone that said and sent messages, it’s really kind and thoughtful.”

Tonight will see James and the other semi-finalists placed in a restaurant setting, where the cooks will have to handle working in teams under the watchful eye of judge John as head chef for the task.

To add to the pressure, the contestants will cook a three-course menu for a room filled with 20 past MasterChef quarter-finalists, semi-finalists and finalists.

James says he's made friends for life in the show which has seen him reach the final 10
James says he’s made friends for life in the show which has seen him reach the final 10

The star-studded line-up are all cooks from the past series of the show who have gone on to have full-time careers in the food industry.

James, who has ambitions of running a golf and food travel club in the future, is geared up for tonight’s task.

He added: “I thoroughly enjoy being in the kitchen, creating stuff and coming up with dishes.

“Obviously, that versus being in the MasterChef kitchen is you haven’t got the radio playing and you haven’t got a glass of wine in your hand, and that it is a very different sort of situation to come up with food.

“But it’s great fun to experience that as well.”

If James is to progress, he and two others will get to take on a chef’s table challenge at the Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London.

The MasterChef semi-final airs tonight at 8pm on BBC One. The competition continues Wednesday at 8pm and Friday at 9pm.

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