Victor Okunowo is the head chef of London’s Talking Drum restaurant and was a semi-finalist of Masterchef: The Professionals 2020.
A former student at NCC’s Redbridge College, Victor says that studying Professional Cookery and Restaurant Management at the college in Chadwell Heath, was what kick-started his career.
He said: “That was where I built the foundations and the tutors were amazing. They showed me what to expect and what the industry was like. It was a great place to learn.”
Since leaving college, Victor has worked at Cafe au Vin (Galvin brothers) The Wolseley, Dukes Hotel, Chiltern Firehouse, Bingham River House, Charles Napier, Stork Mayfair, and most recently at the Talking Drum, a West African fine-dining restaurant in south west London.
He says he loves his job and the best thing about it is the satisfaction you bring to people when they enjoy your food. The worst part of being a head chef is the paperwork. He says he wishes he could stay on the front line more often.
He said: “I want to provide joy for people on a plate.”
Victor loved being part of Masterchef: The Professionals but the pressure was intense. He was a firm favourite with viewers and got down to the last 10, before being eliminated at the semi-final stage.
He said: “Being part of the show was like nothing else existed, everything before and everything after didn’t matter. It’s like being covered with a blanket made of all your aspiration. The pressure was real to say the least. I was disappointed that I set myself a huge task and it didn’t come off, but you live and learn.”
His advice to other students is to keep pushing even when things get tough. “Seek advice and get all the help you can, but always keep moving and don’t give up believing that you are the best.”