Professional kitchens are commonly regarded as among the most stressful working environments in the world.

Add in a host of TV cameras, a Michelin-starred judging panel and a prime-time BBC One timeslot, and the pressure only intensifies.

But for Hira Thakur, the opportunity to take part in MasterChef: The Professionals was simply too good to miss.

Six’s Sous-Chef will take his place as one of 32 leading chefs in the new series of the programme, which begins on Tuesday 10 November.

Thakur’s first appearance will be on Tuesday 17 November – and the experience of being on the long-running show was one he relished.

“I’m a very competitive person,” he explained.

“To be in that kitchen, in front of chefs like Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti, made it quite a nerve-racking experience, but I like having the opportunity to show off my skills and prove myself.

“I thought this was the perfect chance to do just that.”

Before he even made it in front of the cameras, Thakur had proven himself to be amongst the finest chefs to apply for this year’s competition.

"It was quite a nerve-racking experience, but I like having the opportunity to show off my skills and prove myself."

Hira Thakur

Such is the popularity of the format that to make it to the televised stages is a significant achievement in itself.

“It was amazing to find out I’d been chosen for the show,” said Thakur.

“They receive thousands and thousands of applications every year and they only had 32 spots to fill, so even before filming starts you’ve beaten a lot of competition.

“I had to go through quite a long process before I was selected – I had so many interviews, then put together a tasting menu and had my food tested, but a lot of the techniques I’ve used at Six stood me in good stead.”

Thakur’s story deviates somewhat from the traditional career trajectory of the chef.

There will be few senior figures in English restaurant kitchens who honed their skills in the foothills of the Himalayas – but that is exactly what the 34-year-old did.

"It was amazing to find out I’d been chosen for the show."

Hira Thakur

“I grew up in the Himalayas, and my culinary style began with the things my mother showed me,” he recalled.

“I learned a lot from her about natural spices and mixing different flavours – but, most importantly, she gave me the inspiration to start cooking.

“Some of those experiences make my cooking a little different to other people’s in this country.”

From there, a love story and further inspiration from some famous faces have carried Thakur to his role in the kitchens atop Trent Bridge – and to our television screens.

“I was working in my uncle’s restaurant in Goa, and had what began as a holiday romance with a woman from England.

“We got married, had twins and I moved over to Nottingham – and it was then that I realised how far you could progress as a chef.

“Seeing the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White on TV inspired me even more, so I enrolled for a two-year chef diploma.”

Thakur claimed a Student of the Year award in his first year, before beginning a career in England that has seen him work at Baresca, The Cumin, Chino Latino and World Service before taking up his post at Six.

Now comes the next challenge, alongside the cream of the crop from across the country.

Hira Thakur can be seen on MasterChef: The Professionals from Tuesday 17 November at 9pm on BBC One.


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