Marcus Wareing tells Great Easton cook her carrot cake is the best on Masterchef

Zoe Simons

Zoe Simons - Credit: Archant

It’s not every 24-year-old who gets told her carrot cake is the best a double Michelin-starred chef has ever eaten.

Zoe Simons

Zoe Simons - Credit: Archant

But Zoe Simons, a chef from Great Easton, has reached the final 12 in the current series of BBC 2’s Masterchef The Professionals.

On November 24 she made a carrot cake with coffee syrup and carrot and orange puree to the delight of one of the three judges, Marcus Wareing who said it was the best he had ever tried.

The following day, she was back on the programme given the challenge of cooking a two-course meal for four. She produced smoked haddock with black quinoa and pan-fried asparagus followed by a white chocolate and tonka bean ganache.

So what are the three judges really like?

“Well Greg Wallace is what he is. Marcus is very stern at first but he does end up softening. I think he has as much respect for you as you have for your food and Monica (Geletti) has a reputation as an ice-queen but she is the nicest female chef I have ever met.”

Zoe, a former pupil at Newport Free Grammar (now The Joyce Frankland Academy) started in the kitchens of The Swan in Great Easton when she was aged 14. She also worked at The Star in Great Dunmow and trained at Chelmsford College.

Most Read

She is now a development chef for Green Core, the largest food manufacturer in the world. She works in Bow in East London, working on projects including Sainsbury’s Food to Go range.

She says it was a challenge getting to take part in Masterchef. “I applied on-line a year ago in October, there is a long process of interviews and tests. You have to cook for the producers. The hardest thing is the time-scale. You cook a two-course meal for four in one hour 15 minutes. In a restaurant kitchen, all the preparation would have been done beforehand and at home that might take two to three hours. You are working in an extremely short span of time.”

But what does it feel like to be in the final 12 contestants out of an initial 48?

“It’s crazy and incredible all rolled into one. I never thought I would get on the show let alone make it to the final 12. It’s amazing. Most of the other contestants have 10 to 15 years experience on me.”

Zoe will be seen again on the show on Tuesday, December 6. There is no prize as such. She says: “The show is watched by 48million people. That’s priceless.”