From education to employment

Ex Coventry College student set to appear on BBC MasterChef

Burhan Ahmed

A former @CoventryCollege catering student is set for his moment of fame on a much-loved cooking TV programme (@MASTERCHEFonFOX) later this month.

Burhan Ahmed, from Exhall, is set to appear on BBC One’s MasterChef: The Professionals on 24 November where he 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 he decided to apply for 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 eventually 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 more than 4,000 followers – as he looks to follow his dream of opening one of the UK’s first Michelin star Bangladeshi restaurants in Coventry in the near future.

Reflecting on his progress since graduating from his Professional Cookery course at Coventry College in 2016, Burhan paid tribute to the impact that his former tutor has had on his career so far – which included 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 that 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.

“Cooking hasn’t always been what I had wanted to do – I initially wanted to be a veterinary surgeon, but all of that changed when I moved to Coventry from West Sussex in 2013.

“I moved in late summer of 2013 and needed to stay in education, so 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, and 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.

“I’m really excited about my longer term aim of opening a Michelin star restaurant, but more importantly, I’m hoping it can inspire other students and show them that if you have someone who believes in you and you’re prepared to work hard, then you can achieve great things.”

James Brooke, Lecturer in Catering at Coventry College, 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?’; and 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.

“One of my career highlights was seeing him walk away with a silver medal from the prestigious World Skills cooking competition in 2016 which involved four solid days of competition.

“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.”

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