MasterChef contestants Chris Hale and Jo Mills are teaming up to run a pop-up restaurant from the tipi at the Cedar Court Hotel in Harrogate.
Chris Hale was a quarter finalist in 2016, and Jo Mills also reached the quarter-finals in 2021.
Jo was previously a biology teacher and lives in Garforth and Chris already has a successful catering business.
Jo was on this year, and I was on in 2016 and I developed an event catering business on the back of it, but it now feels like a lifetime ago.
It really snowballed and I have 15 staff. We predominantly work on events in the Leeds, Wakefield and Manchester triangle, but we also have a couple of cafés.
To get onto MasterChef you have to be a complete amateur, so you have never been in a professional kitchen before. I didn’t take part with the intention of getting into the industry. I had always watched the show, but never released how big it was until I took part – it gets 12 million viewers and social media can go crazy around it.
Following the show, I did one pop-up, and then another, but then it just snowballed from there. Initially it was the MasterChef name that opened the doors, but now it is about the food, and built on reputation for what we have done.
I come from the point of view of customer experience, and not just the food. Many trained chefs are all trained in the same way, but a self-trained chef comes from creative passion and being a foodie.
I have always cooked, and like Chris, had loved watching MasterChef. I cooked for other people, and they would say why don’t you go on MasterChef.
I had taken an early retirement from teaching, so I thought why not just do it.
It was a difficult selection process to get on, initially there were telephone interviews, with a couple of rounds before having to cook on a zoom call for the producer.
Jo’s passion is tapas, so I thought, let’s lead on that, but make it festive tapas, so lots of little bites.
There’s a lot of passion from Jo, and also some Mediterranean passion.
We did talk about a fine dining, but we thought with the tipi and logistically, it wouldn’t work.
It will be a chilled environment in the tipi.
The pop-up dates are in December 2021, see Tribute Nights in Harrogate & Function Room Hire Harrogate (cedarcourthotels.co.uk)
Inside the Tipi at the Cedar Court