Meet Guest Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts

Chef Director of Heston Blumenthal's Dinner, Ashley Palmer-Watts is returning to the MasterChef kitchen with a Pressure Test like no other.

Q&A with Ashley

Why did you decide to be a part of MasterChef Australia this year and what does it mean to you?

I love being part of the series. This being my fourth series I love to see how the different contestants cope with a technical challenge but also how they trouble shoot and find solutions when they get into difficulty.

What’s the best cooking advice you’ve received that you want the MasterChef contestants to know?

In regards to cooking it would be to taste all the time. But in relation to their challenge it would be to read the recipe carefully and follow it the best they can.

Can you give us a taste of something you saw in the MasterChef kitchen this year that excited you?

I was a little surprised to see the contestants only make one serving of the dish in the challenge instead of using all the ingredients and equipment to make 4 just in case there was a problem at a later stage there would be a backup. However, finishing with just one there was plenty of excitement as there was no back up – anything can happen!

What is your all-time favourite comfort food dish?

Roast chicken with all the trimmings at home.

What’s your go-to ice cream flavour? 

Praline and cream.

Pineapple on pizza – agree or disagree?

Absolutely not - DISAGREE.

What jumps out at you when you’re looking at menu at a restaurant

Depending on what I feel like – ingredients that I don’t eat every day and flavour combinations that sound really interesting that are bound to work well.

What was your favourite dish to eat as a kid and is there a dish that you make now that reminds you of this time?

Great fish and chips were a real treat so every time I have fish and chips now it brings back all those memories.

What ingredient or flavour do you love to cook and eat?

I love garlic. Garlic just works in so many ways to make things taste amazing.

What’s your favourite dish to make at home on a lazy Sunday?

On a lazy Sunday we have to be cooking a shoulder of pork on the bbq.

What dish or technique did you struggle with in the past and you’ve now mastered?

From early days as a chef, filleting fish took some learning. All types of fish have their intricacies that all need to be understood in order to do it really well.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice as a young chef, what would it be?

Take your time. Learn the foundations of classical cooking techniques before building on top of those foundations so you become well rounded, have great skill and you will go far.

Is there a naughty technique for a dish that you use that other chefs might find controversial?

No – not really.