MasterChef The Professionals: Meet the 2020 contestants - from Santosh to Jamaar and Philli!

MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 is finally here, with chefs set to showcase their skills on the 13th series. Meet the contestants!

More than 30 skilled chefs will go head-to-head in a battle for the trophy, in a bid to impress this year’s judges Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace.

Two contestants will be eliminated at each heat section of the competition, with 16 left in the final week of MasterChef: The Professionals.

So who is taking part in this year’s series? Meet the contestants!

Masterchef: The Professionals S13 – The Judges Generics (No. The Judges Generics) – Picture Shows: Monica Galetti, Marcus Wareing, Gregg Wallace – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC


Santosh Shah calls himself a Nepalese chef on Instagram. He is the head chef at Indian restaurant Cinnamon Collection.

The 34-year-old is also the executive chef of Saffron Circle UK. He was originally born and raised in a village in Nepal called Karjanha, Siraha.


As the youngest of 7 siblings – who was inspired by his chef brother – Santosh moved from Nepal to India at 15 years old, to work as a commis in a five-star restaurant for 10 years.

He then relocated from Gujarat to London 10 years ago – one of his first jobs was at Brasserie Blanc.

Santosh has been a chef for 20 years, and got through to the semi-finals!

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Jamaar Semper competed in the Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year competition in 2020, making it to the final.

Looking at his Instagram, Jamaar regularly spends time in Bristol, and works at Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa in Chippenham.

He also won the Southwest Young Professional Chef of the Year in 2019.


Philli practised for Masterchef: The Professionals by buying a one-way plane ticket to Japan, where she spent a year travelling from Japan to Indonesia.

While she was there, she worked in restaurants, visited Kobe beef farms, and ate mochi, among other activities.

It all started at the age of 22, when she joined Gordon Ramsay Restaurants and became passionate about Asian food.

Philli, who is now 28, works in consultancy with Nutshell Food and runs masterclasses for skilled chefs at her business Chef Tribe.

She enjoys cooking ‘pretty dirty food’, a hashtag she uses in her business. Starring in the first heat, Philli made it to the second round alongside chef Sammy, and has since gone through to the semi-finals!


Victor Okunowo is head chef at pan-African-style restaurant Talking Drum London and offers private dining bookings.

The 25-year-old spends most of his time in London, and occasionally does Victor’s Tapas Tasting videos on his Instagram.

The Masterchef contestant also took part in a cooking competition at Hotel Olympia, London, when he was in college – and took home a bronze medal.

He made it through the first round in the second heat, and has since made it to the semi-finals!


Ross Burgess, 30, who lives in Edinburgh, calls himself a travel addict. He has visited 49 countries so far, and is still “counting”.

Looking at his Instagram, Ross posted a ring emoji caption under a picture with Amy Bigmore on March 12, 2020. So it looks like he is engaged!

He is a sous chef at Murrayside Care Home in Edinburgh. Ross said they “make everything from scratch”, adding that the place is “fantastic”.

Ross has also provided fine dining for 10 and a half years. He made it to the quarter-finals!

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Rich appeared on MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 in Heat 2.

He is the head chef of a riverside restaurant in Bradford on Avon and comes from a Michelin star background.

Rich, 36, started his career in London before he moved down to Exeter, to Bath – where he worked in two hotels – then opened up his own restaurant.

Masterchef: The Professionals S13. Picture Shows: Rich – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC


Luke Rhodes, 26, had his first child earlier this year, and had a home renovation, so it’s been a pretty busy time for the MasterChef contestant.

He has a baby girl Dolly Freo with his wife and qualified pastry chef Jessica, who he lives with in Sheffield.

Luke is a sous chef at Halifax Hall hotel in Sheffield, and has his own meat business called Luke Rhodes Smokehouse BBQ.

He said that he has “always wanted to be a chef from day one”. And much to his delight, Luke got through to the semi finals!


Burhan Ahmed is a 23-year-old award-winning chef, according to his bio. He cooks, but also bakes desserts, such as chocolate and caramel sponge.

The chef de partie, from Staffordshire, has a passion for produce inspired by his father. His family are also in the catering industry.

When he was nine years old, Burhan went to Billingsgate Fish Market with his dad and spent his savings on buying a lobster for £20!

His Instagram states that he is a 2x national gold medallist, and has a passion for food and cars. Burhan owns a very flashy BMW! He is also a father to Amelia.

Burhan got through to the quarter finals!


Joe, 24, works as head chef in a modern British restaurant in London.

The contestant was recently promoted to the role before going on the show!

He said that since a young age, his mum has called him a “dog with a bone”.

Joe continued:

I wouldn’t work 17 hours a day and 5 days a week if I wasn’t driven. I go home and I think about new dishes.

Episode: Masterchef: The Professionals S13 – The Chefs Generics (No. The Chefs Generics) – Picture Shows: Joe – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC


Bart van der Lee is a private chef who has his own shop and recipe site.

He started his cooking career at the age of 16, with his first job as a chef at Toine Hermsen, a Michelin star restaurant in Maastricht, Netherlands.

The Masterchef contestant is married to wife Ana, who he met in Turks and Caicos. Having worked at several restaurants, he now works on superyachts, cooks in ski resorts and travels to multiple destinations.


Jono Hawthorne, 31, is the head chef at Vice and Virtue, a modern British restaurant and cocktail bar in Leeds.

The contestant, who is a father to son Ted, has worked in the kitchens of NOMA, The Man Behind The Curtain and The Box Tree.

More recently, he seems to stay occupied by preparing takeaway food for Leeds residents, while restaurants are closed.

The restaurant focuses on local produce and foraged, fresh ingredients. It looks like Jono’s experience as a chef paid off, as he is now a semi-finalist!


Alexander Henry Webb, 25, is head chef at Square 1 restaurant, in Dunmow, Essex. The contestant says he has been a chef since he was 14 years old.

He started out working as a pot wash at the same restaurant that he currently works at, before going off to learn from different restaurants, and returning to showcase his skills.

He has already announced that he will be working on Christmas Day, making festive dinners for customers!

Alexander, who calls himself Chef Webb, also has a cockapoo called Truffle.

The contestant has now been made a semi-finalist!


Sammy Hillen, from Newbury in Berkshire, is a 25-year-old sous chef.

He was a finalist in Chef of the Year 2018 by BS, before going onto win the competition in 2019.

Sammy, 24, who is a father of two, works in contract catering at a crash test training facility.

Although his time in the skills test worried judges, he won them over when presenting his own dishes in the 2nd test. He made it to the quarter finals.


Dave Wells, from Oxfordshire, is head chef at gastro pub The Fat Frog restaurant in The Chequers, based in Didcot, which he formerly owned.

Looking at his Instagram, the 39-year-old is also a father, and sometimes goes on bike rides with his son.

He has been a chef for 24 years, with his passion for food starting when he was 16 years old.

Dave made his mark on the judges in his first round, and got through! He then impressed judges further and made it to the semi-finals.


Jahdre Hayward, 40, from Epping, is head chef at award-winning Haywards restaurant in Essex, which he owns and runs alongside his wife Amanda.

He has worked there for 7 years and is responsible for the main kitchen, while Amanda runs front of house.

He previously lived in Australia with Amanda, where he became a sous chef at The National Gallery.

Jahdre then moved to the Melbourne Wine Room as a head chef, and later the Millswyn, before opening his current fine dining restaurant.

Jahdre has also worked at Hanbury Manor, Rules restaurant, Oxo Tower, Novelli in the City and The Ritz.

Don’t forget our next takeaway is coming up this Friday! Glazed pork cheek with herb crumb, white bean and chorizo…

Posted by Haywards on Wednesday, October 14, 2020


Aaron, 27, runs his own pop-ups, and works at a sous chef at a two-Rosette Indian restaurant in Buckinghamshire.

The contestant, from Amersham, said they were closed for 2 months when lockdown measures took place, but have since opened for takeaway.

He added that MasterChef: The Professionals is the biggest thing he has done in his career to date.

Aaron was put through to the semi finals!


Head pastry chef Scott joins the line-up of contestants in this year’s MasterChef: The Professionals on BBC One.

Scott, 31, works at a bistro in Central Manchester. He is one of three siblings, and says they all “cooked away as a family”.

He says his job as a chef has taken him all over the world, and that it has taught him things he would never really learn in a regular environment.

Masterchef: The Professionals S13 – The Chefs Generics (No. The Chefs Generics) – Picture Shows: Scott – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production


Guillaume Dunos, 26, is a chef patron at French cuisine restaurant La Ferme at Primrose Hill, London.

The chef, who also works at Zebulon Palais Royal Officiel, is from Paris.

He learned how to cook from spending time in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother from the age of seven.

Guillaume then trained in the Michelin-starred kitchens of Paris. He now describes his cuisine as “minimalist but generous”.

He made it through to the quarter finals!


Hira Diamond Thakur, 33, is a senior sous chef at Dine At Six in Nottingham, which is based at Trent Bridge Cricket Ground.

His role oversees all the sections, which involves making sure everything goes out in the restaurant with the highest quality.

The father-of-two is married to wife Louise, and is passionate about boxing, health, fitness and cooking.

He likes to learn classic French cookery, and focuses on putting that flavour into his own version of Asian fusion.


Andrew, 27, is a junior sous chef from Cheltenham.

He said he became a chef because he loves food, and has always loved cooking with food.

Andrew said:

It’s always very rewarding, especially when you get good feedback from customers, and your peers as well.

Masterchef: The Professionals S13 – The Chefs Generics (No. The Chefs Generics) – Picture Shows: Andrew – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC


Jabari is a 31-year-old self-taught sous chef who works at The Jugged Hare in London, and also offers private dining on request.

His Instagram bio states “Hip Hop 4 life”, showing his passion for music as well as cooking.

He regularly shares his cooked dishes on social media, and spends his spare time making visits to several restaurants.


Otis is the head chef at Cellar Club in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

He also runs street food trader Grandad’s Kitchen alongside Ant Langston.

The MasterChef contestant also offers private dining!


Harrison, 22, joined the other contestants to compete in this year’s series of MasterChef: The Professionals.

He is the head chef and co-owner of a restaurant in Devon, which he recently opened with two friends shortly after finishing college.

Harrison said:

Cooking’s the easy bit. Running the actual business is the hard bit. Cooking’s the fun bit. That’s the bit we all enjoy.

Masterchef: The Professionals S13 – Heat 2 (No. Heat 2) – Picture Shows: Harrison – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC


It looks like Michaela also keeps business and her private life separate, as she couldn’t be found on social media.

She joins the line-up of skilled chefs on MasterChef: The Professionals 2020!

Michaela didn’t make it through to the next round, following her appearance on the second heat of the series.

Masterchef: The Professionals S13 – Heat 2 (No. Heat 2) – Picture Shows: Michaela – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC


Carla, who lives on the Isle of Mull, is the owner and chef of Ninth Wave Restaurant. She is also a food writer.

She previously worked at Argyll Hotel as their head chef.

Originally from Regina, in Canada, the sibling-of-four now spends her spare time trying on wigs, and regularly cooks dishes which she posts on Insta.


Joining the line-up is Reece Elliott from Sheffield, who came second place in the Junior Masterchef of Great Britain competition.

Reece is a junior sous chef at The Cavendish Hotel in Baslow.

He has a son called Hudson with his fiance Laura Wilson.


Ash, 24, joins the MasterChef: The Professionals contestants this year.

She has been a sous chef in the Royal Navy for 6 and a half years.

Ash, who is from Plymouth, said that she has always enjoyed cooking, especially when she’s with her grandparents.

Masterchef: The Professionals S13 – The Chefs Generics (No. The Chefs Generics) – Picture Shows: Ash – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC


Dalila, from Sardinia, says she is “madly in love with food” in her Insta bio.

According to her Facebook, she has worked at The Cross Keys pub in Great Missenden, which she left in 2018. Dalila now lives in London.

The chef previously studied at Abingdon & Witney College.


Harry is set to compete against the other contestants in the series.

We couldn’t find him on social media, so we will have to get to know him throughout MasterChef: The Professionals!

Masterchef: The Professionals S13 – The Chefs Generics (No. The Chefs Generics) – Picture Shows: Harry – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC


Paul Hood, from Edinburgh, has cooked for the Royal Family before!

The 34-year-old, originally from Presterfield, has been cooking for almost 20 years after watching his chef father work his magic in the kitchen.

He is now executive head chef for Heritage Portfolio and has made menus for Royal events, including Ascot and the Queen’s Garden Party.


Kuljit, 42, made his cooking debut in the first heat of this year’s series.

He is the executive head chef at a four-star hotel in central London.

The contestant started out as a trainee and had to reach 11 promotions to get his current position, each of them taking a few years of “hard work”.

MasterChef: The Professionals S13 – Heat 1 (No. Heat 1) – Picture Shows: Kuljit – (C) Shine TV – Photographer: Production. Picture: BBC



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