A FORMER Coventry College catering student is set to appear on BBC One’s MasterChef: The Professionals on Tuesday, November 24.
Burhan Ahmed, from Exhall, will face off in a series of cooking challenges against three other chefs.
The 23-year-old was one of 32 candidates selected from more than 4,500 applicants to appear on this year’s show after applying to the programme at the start of the first lockdown in March.
After a rigorous selection process – which involved multiple video interviews, creating a tasting menu, and sourcing three professional references – Burhan found himself entering one of the most prestigious cooking kitchens in the UK in July.
Since starring on the show Burhan has been conducting various food tutorials on his Instagram account which now has 7,000 followers.
His dream is to open one of the UK’s first Michelin star Bangladeshi restaurants in Coventry.
Reflecting on his progress since graduating from his professional cookery course in 2016, Burhan paid tribute to the impact his former tutor has had on his career so far.
It has included him picking up several medals from national cooking competitions along the way.
Burhan, who has been a Chef de Partie at Drayton Manor Hotel for the last three-and-a-half years, said: “The past six months have been a whirlwind for me – ever since I mentioned online about my appearance on MasterChef my social media following has soared and is growing day-by-day.
“I can’t wait for the programme to air so people can see how I got on – it was certainly an experience that will live with me for the rest of my life, and one that will stand me in good stead for my future career.”
Burhan had wanted to be a veterinary surgeon but that changed when he moved to Coventry from West Sussex in 2013.
“I opted for the Professional Cookery course at Coventry College, and ever since then I just haven’t looked back.
“I found that I enjoyed it and instantly built a strong relationship with the course tutor James Brooke.
“Without his ongoing support I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“I remember being in floods of tears after receiving feedback in my first national competition and James was there to pick me up and give me encouragement to carry on – he was so supportive that he would even supply his own ingredients if I was short during class.
“I love putting a modern twist on classic British and French dishes – and have been able to master my execution of these meals over the years.”
As well as opening a Michelin star restaurant he also wants to inspire other students and show them if they have someone who believes in them and they are prepared to work hard they can achieve great things.
Coventry College’s catering lecturer James Brooke added: “Burhan had such passion and drive for the hospitality industry that you couldn’t help but get caught up in his enthusiasm.
“My first question to Burhan when I met him was ‘where do you see yourself in the future?’
“His answer was to have his own restaurant that one day will have a star – it looks like he has taken a giant leap towards this goal.”
He cites seeing Burhan win his silver medal from the prestigious World Skills cooking competition in 2016 after four solid days of competition as one of his career highlights.
“Burhan’s achievement epitomises why I love my job – there’s nothing more rewarding for me than helping the next generation of catering professionals to realise their potential.”
Burhan never fails to amaze the team at Drayton Manor with his creativity, flavour combinations and eye for detail.
Carl Hickinbottom, executive chef at Drayton Manor Hotel, said: “We are all immensely proud of Burhan’s achievement, but not at all surprised – he is an extraordinarily talented young chef!
“The entire Drayton Manor team will be tuning in to watch him on MasterChef: The Professionals, and we wish him the best of luck!”
Burhan said: “Being on MasterChef: The Professionals has been such an amazing experience for me.
“It’s an honour to have been recognised by such a prestigious show, and it has already done wonders for my professional career.
“The entire experience from start to finish was so humbling, I can’t thank the Drayton Manor team enough for their support, as well as Gregg Wallace and the production crew for helping me feel so at home on set!”
Click here to follow Burhan on Instagram and see his tutorials.
Watch Masterchef at 9pm on BBC one on Tuesday.