Stokie Steve blows Masterchef competition away with ‘nuclear-powered’ curry

A home cook from Stoke-on-Trent wowed the Masterchef judges and blew away his competition with a ‘nuclear-powered’ chicken tikka masala. Steve, 42, an IT manager, appeared in tonight’s episode of the long-running BBC show, hopeful of progressing to the quarter-finals.

Steve, who spent his childhood cooking with his mum, expressed big dreams of one day opening his own fine dining restaurant and gaining a Michelin star. He told host and judge Gregg Wallace: “I’d like to have a Michelin star.

“I know it sounds big, ambitious; but, obviously, I’ve got cerebral palsy. If they say I can never walk, and I’ve got to Masterchef, who says that in five years’ time I can’t have a Michelin star?”

READ MORE: MasterChef contestant Stokie Steve hoping to wow John and Gregg | The IT manager is on Thursday night’s show

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First, Steve would have to stave off strong competition from five other keen cooks. The first round was called ‘basic to brilliant’, a challenge that saw the contestants take humble, everyday ingredients and elevate them.

The two top-performing contestants would be handed a coveted Masterchef apron, bypass the next elimination round and progress straight through the episode’s two-course finale.

Steve (far left) with his fellow contestants
(Image: BBC)

“I’m really excited,” said Steve. “I can’t wait to serve my food to Gregg and John. I’m loving every minute of this.”

Steve chose chicken breast as his ‘humble ingredient’ in a chicken tikka masala with a naan bread, saying: “I like to use it quite a lot, especially with family.”

When Gregg asked Steve why he chose chicken tikka, he said: “It’s a family favourite, especially with my missus. She absolutely loves this one.”

Fellow judge John Torode expressed some concerns about the many things that could go wrong with the seemingly simple dish. He said: “Chicken breast can go dry really quickly and I think that’s a bit of a gamble for Steve.

“The danger with naan is if it’s not cooked all the way through it’s doughy. But, if he pulls this off, that’s impressive in an hour and 20 minutes.”

Steve’s chicken tikka masala
(Image: BBC)

Steve’s curry dish, served with naan bread and pilau rice, was first to be judged. An impressed John said: “That chicken would definitely glow in the dark. I think you’ve been really true to chicken tikka masala.

“It’s usually bright red in your local Indian. I think that’s brilliant. The sauce is nuclear — that is nuclear-powered. It’s tasty.”

Gregg was equally enthused: “I’m impressed by how moist that chicken breast is, and on the outside you get a lime pickle. That’s lovely… I’m really enjoying these flavours.”

“I’m feeling really good now. Exhilarated,” said a delighted Steve.

At the end of the challenge, the top two contestants were to be given a Masterchef apron, while four would have to stay behind and cook again. The judges selected Steve’s dish as their favourite, and handed him an apron along with fellow contestant Aaron.

Steve won the first challenge
(Image: BBC)

“I’m feeling absolutely buzzing,” said Steve. “Extremely proud.”

During the show, Steve opened up about his cerebral palsy. “I’ve had this since birth,” he said. “I have limited movements in my legs and my right arm.

“When I’m in the kitchen I can spend hours without any issues. It’s as if adrenaline kicks in and it makes me feel amazing.”

Steve was exempt from the next challenge, and rejoined the action after two cooks were eliminated. Four contestants battled it out for three quarter-final spots as they cooked two courses.

Steve prepared a chocolate and coffee-rubbed rib eye steak with chunky chips, asparagus and bourbon and coffee sauce, followed by a white chocolate and cardamom cheese cake.

Steve’s coffee and chocolate ribeye steak
(Image: BBC)

He said: “This menu makes me stand out from the competition because it is different. The flavours just explode in your mouth.”

On why he chose the dishes, Steve said: “I’m the type of chef who likes to mix and match, and to try and mess with your mind a little bit.”

John described Steve’s choices as ‘really bold,’ and worried that, should the coffee burn, it could make the steak bitter.

But Gregg was impressed by the flavour combination: “I like the bitterness coming off that rub, and the sauce has a sweet smokiness to it. He’s got some good ideas. It’s just that beef, it’s a little bit rare.”

Moving to the cheesecake, Gregg said: “I think we could have put a little more cardamom with the cheese cake.”

Steve’s white chocolate and cardamom cheese cake. 
(Image: BBC)

John added: “I think it needs more chocolate, but not a bad effort.”

Steve said: “I feel drained. It was busy in there, to say the least. I’m not sure if I’ve done what I wanted to do, but see what they say.

“If I went home now I would be devastated. I want a place in the quarter-final more than anything.”

Steve as he was told he was through to the quarter-final
(Image: BBC)

Steve was named as the third and final quarter-finalist. A delighted Steve said: “Unbelievable. I’m a Masterchef quarter-finalist. I did not think I was going to be able to do that. I’m absolutely elated.”

Masterchef continues 7.30pm Friday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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