SL Meets Three Female MasterChef Finalists |

SL Meets Three Female MasterChef Finalists

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Having made it to the final of MasterChef 2017, Lorna Robertson, Alison O’ Reilly and Giovanna Ryan are a force to be reckoned with. And, proving their cooking credentials once again, the three budding chefs have joined forces to launch their first London supper club, Three Girls Cook. We sat down with the talented trio to talk MasterChef, food trends and getting into the industry…

What inspired you to get into cooking?

Lorna: “Watching cookery programmes, reading cookbooks and generally eating lots and lots of lovely food from a young age!”
Giovanna: “My family – I come from a big Italian family so food is a massive part of our family life. We still fight over who gets to cook when we’re all back home.”
Alison: “When I was very young I remember being fascinated watching my uncle, who was a chef, at work in his kitchen. Food has always been a big part of my life, but I’ve been hesitant to give up my experience in marketing to go back and train as a chef.”

What do you love most about it?

Lorna:“I find cooking so relaxing, and I love being able to make people happy and bring them together over food.”
Alison: “Probably the creativity of it. I love researching new food trends and different cuisines and playing around with innovative ingredients.”

Is there anything you don’t like?

Lorna: “I don’t like cleaning up afterwards!”
Alison: “It can be tricky to keep your waistline in check… I try to eat healthily but when there’s something delicious on the table I find it impossible to say no, no matter how full I am – or how many calories are in it!”

Did you always want to become a chef?

Lorna: “When I was deciding what I wanted to do after school, attending a professional catering college was tempting, but I decided against it. Part of me still wishes I had gone for it rather than studying journalism, but it’s food writing I’m passionate about now.”
Giovanna: “I never saw it as an option. I adored cooking but I was busy wanting to be a musical theatre star!”

How did you find MasterChef?

Lorna: “It was the best experience of my life. It’s exhausting and drains your bank account, but it’s so worth it. You learn so much and develop so quickly – I produced dishes I never thought I would. Also, the people are incredible; although it’s a competition, everybody wants everyone else to do well, and we would all share tips and techniques with one another.”
Giovanna: “I loved it – you get opportunities and experiences you can’t quite believe are real. My highs were cooking with inspiring chefs like Paul Ainsworth and Sat Bains.”
Alison: “Truly amazing. There were virtually no lows – it was just one massive high from start to finish. If I had to pick one highlight it would undoubtedly be the people I’ve met.”

What’s life been like since you appeared on the show?

Giovanna: “Very, very busy! We’re all trying to juggle full-time work as well as getting Three Girls Cook off the ground – people assume once you’ve been on MasterChef you won’t have a normal job, but we still have to pay the bills. It’s incredibly exciting though, and we’re cooking and devising recipes all the time.”

On a Similar Note

Any advice for women who are thinking of going into the industry?

Lorna: “This is something we all feel very passionately about. It’s well known there are fewer female chefs in the industry than male, especially higher in the ranks. As a young girl thinking of going into the industry, there are very few people to aspire to, so you need to become your own role model. If you love to cook and want to become a chef, there’s no reason why you can’t. It’s tough and competitive and very hard work, but definitely worth it.”
Alison: “As a woman in my early 30s, I do worry about the hours that most professional chefs put in and how this would work if I were to have children. It’s a tough industry for anyone, but if you love what you do and you’re good at it, so many things are possible.”

Tell us about your new supper club, Three Girls Cook…

Lorna: “We’re all very excited – and a little apprehensive. The three of us all got on so well during MasterChef and our styles of cooking are easy to combine, so we thought it would be lovely to join forces as we didn’t get a chance to cook together! The response we've had from the public has been so positive, we’re planning more in the future.”

And what are your next steps?

Lorna: “My goal was always to be a food writer, so I’m keen to pursue this further. I work in food and restaurant PR so I’ve made some incredible contacts in the industry that will hopefully stand me in good stead.”
Giovanna: “It’s too early to say – let’s see how the supper clubs go!”
Alison: “I won’t be completely ditching the career just yet! However, I am doing as much food writing and hosting of supper clubs, pop-ups and events in my spare time as possible, so let’s see…”

Any restaurant recommendations?

Lorna: “I have so many! Bao, Kiln and Lorne are definitely up there.”
Giovanna: “I recently went to Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons for my 30th, which was divine. Also, I live in Brixton, close to Naughty Piglets, which I adore – the food is exceptional and they always make you feel so welcome.”
Alison: “Top three? The Barbary, The Dairy and Trullo.”

What food trends are you excited about?

Alison: “Street food is taking on a whole new meaning and identity that’s very exciting. There are more and more street food vendors offering seriously inventive restaurant-quality eats, while restaurants try and become more accessible and casual with street food-themed menus. This collision is opening up a whole new dining experience.”

Finally, any clever tricks to help in the kitchen?

Lorna: “Cook in bulk. I dedicate my Sunday afternoon to cooking and baking, that way I have enough food to last me throughout the week. It means that on a Wednesday evening when you have no energy to cook, there’s something ready and waiting in the fridge.”
Giovanna: “I roast a chicken every week then make stock from the bones, freeze it, and use the meat for lunches throughout the week. It’s cheaper than buying pre-cut breasts or thighs and much more sustainable.”
Alison: “Make herb flavoured oils in order to have a wide variety of instant flavour at your fingertips. It also helps reduce food waste, as softer herbs like basil, mint and parsley don’t keep for very long.”


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