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In 2007, Steven Wallis reached the final of the successful BBC series Master Chef Goes Large, demonstrating his love and passion for food, as well as his great skill and determination which enabled him to become the outright winner.

Steven WallisOf multi-ethnic origin, Steven is undoubtedly a highly creative and experimental cook, whose approach is based upon combining complex flavours using seasonal, organic produce and a myriad of spices, herbs and aromatics. Having won such high praise during Masterchef for his great palette, Steven hopes to build upon his love and understanding of food by training with some of the world's greatest chefs to further broaden and develop his signature style.

  • Born in Reading, Berkshire 27 May 1970
  • Grew up in Windsor Great Park, Windsor for most of his childhood. Steven's parents worked for Crown Estate. Had a very rural upbringing and family life was dominated by parent's love of nature and the countryside. They were keen gardeners and grew fruits and vegetables extensively. Steven's Mother is a keen and often experimental cook with an often very creative style, and informed a great deal of his flair and passion for food.
  • At aged 13, Steven spent two years in Pakistan - which had a profound influence on his understanding as an individual, but gave him a tremendous ethnic context with which he still applies to creative life. This period was dominated by a learning of exciting new flavours, textures, sights and smells, which to this day he still remembers vividly. Steven draws great comfort from recreating many Pakistani and Indian dishes that are representative of his childhood, as well as developing new dishes that express a more contemporary take on his ethnicity.
  • At 28, Steven graduated from Central St.Martins College of Art in Fashion design, being one of the first design graduates to secure a coveted collection with Designers at Debenhams, under his own label. He also worked with the milliner Stephen Jones, and Hussein Chalayan.
  • Aged 30, Steven made the transition from designer to consultant - adding his aesthetic understanding and intrinsic awareness of consumer and lifestyle trends to many international brand consultancy businesses. During this time Steven has developed concepts for communications and design for many brands, spanning Automotive, Fine Fragrance & Cosmetics, Hotels, Airlines, and Food and Beverages.
  • Steven has a great cultural understanding, and applies his curiosity to learning about every aspect of the food industry. He has particular admiration for food growers, producers and purveyors who seek to challenge the status quo and continually raise consumer's understanding and perceptions of great food.
  • Steven's other loves are travel and art/design, both of which informs his cooking style a great deal. It is when travelling that Steven takes his inspiration from ethnic cuisine and the sensorial delights of food markets where he applies his imaginative use of flavours in dishes that he creates.

As 'lifted' from Steven's blog:

I guess I have always been into food and have had a steady fascination for it and its culture from childhood. It has been a big influence in my life, and both my parents have been very good cooks, My Mother was growing organic veggies in our garden in the 70's, and constantly managed to make runner beans delicious all through the growing season.

My Father's Pakistani cooking really is a massive contrast to the flavours and foods that I grew up with, his cooking style helped me understand how to cook with spices and pungent aromatics, and how spiced food can be deeply aromatic and complex, without becoming overpowering.

I guess my cooking style is a combination of the slightly eccentric English style home cooking of my Mum's, with an edge of exotica that is directly from my Father's repertoire. Of course I have many cooking influences and have my favourite foods - top of that list is Japanese, as I am very fond of their palette (where the Umami taste sensation has its provenance) as much as their aesthetics for presentation and language. I have been to Japan twice and am still deeply fascinated by the country in so many ways.

Other cuisines I get inspiration from are French (for me it is the basis for many contemporary recipes), I do love some of the artistry, but at times I do get lost on the terminology and preciousness . . . perhaps because of my lack of concentration.

Both rustic and modern Greek food is exceptional, and for me I love their use of simple Mediterranean ingredients, often pared with quite exotic spices that one would expect of the Middle East. Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cuisine is as inspirational as it is good to cook, and eat for that matter, although nothing really beats a bloody good roast chicken - Label Anglaise of course! I think it has to be one of the best things you could possibly eat.

I do love to travel and cannot resist any type of market to poke about in. If I could I would love to spend my days going from country to country, learning about local, indigenous ingredients and how to cook them. I'm always riveted and slightly spooked by fish markets, as I love sea creatures and am always intrigued to see them up close. Cooking with fish is such a treat and always a winner with hungry friends. I must admit the Thai Monkfish Curry I cook is a bit of a crowd pleaser, and any leftovers taste amazing the next day.

Cooking really is no fun without good people around you, and I feel that it should always be an experience that goes hand in hand with life's pleasures.

Steven Wallis' Blog the urban foodie

Published 28 August 2007