Meet Young MasterChef contestant Lewis
Lewis, the 21-year-old culinary whiz from Swindon, is stirring up excitement on this year’s Young MasterChef with his unique cooking style and compelling story.
A student of Politics and Modern Languages at the University of Sheffield, Lewis’s journey has taken him from Swindon to Spain, infusing his cooking with a rich tapestry of influences.
“I was born in Swindon and I’ve lived most of my life there,” Lewis recalls. His deep connection to his hometown, especially Penhill, resonates in his cooking, a blend of the familiar and the exotic. “It’s Penhill in Swindon that I’d call home,” he says, emphasizing the deep-rooted bond with his birthplace. This connection is evident in his cooking, which often features homely, comforting flavours.
Family has played a pivotal role in Lewis’s culinary journey. Living with his mum, sister, and two cats, Maliq and Bear, he shares a close bond with his family, including frequent visits to his nearby nan and regular meet-ups with his dad. These family interactions have deeply influenced his cooking style. “Growing up with my dad being a chef and my family being full of amazing cooks, food has always been a big deal for me,” Lewis says. His first cooking memories are of simple yet iconic dishes like fish and chips from the Ferry Café in Fleetwood and his nan’s roast dinners. These early experiences laid the foundation for his eclectic and adventurous cooking style.
Lewis’s approach to cooking is a blend of traditional and innovative techniques. “My cooking style is really eclectic,” he explains. He combines his childhood experiences with the knowledge he’s gained from being part of the social media generation. “I’ll bloom my spices in oil when I’m making pasta, or I’ll use cornflour to thicken a French mother sauce,” he says, demonstrating his skill in fusing different culinary traditions. His respect for traditional recipes is balanced by his willingness to experiment, creating complex flavours and textures.
Being autistic has given Lewis a distinct perspective in the kitchen. “I’ve got a very different way of looking at the world, and food, to most people,” he shares. His condition has shaped his approach to cooking, imbuing him with a perfectionist streak and an intense dedication to his craft. “I’m rarely 100% happy with anything I put out,” he admits, which drives him to constantly improve and innovate.
His cooking idols range from renowned chefs like Gordon Ramsay to influential social media creators. This eclectic mix of inspirations is reflected in his cooking, which is both respectful of culinary traditions and eager to break new ground. “I could list 100 creators that have influenced me,” he says, highlighting the significant impact of social media on his culinary development.
Lewis’s decision to join Young MasterChef was spontaneous yet purposeful. “I saw on my social media that applications were now open,” he recalls. His goal on the show is not just to showcase his culinary skills but also to represent his community and challenge stereotypes about autistic individuals. “If I could get myself on this stage, rep my food, rep my people, and maybe change people’s perceptions of autistic people – it’d be rude not to,” he asserts with conviction.
Cooking in the MasterChef kitchen is a dream come true for Lewis. “The setup is proper, the competition is strong, and the pressure is on!” he enthuses. The experience is both challenging and rewarding, offering him a platform to learn and grow. His ultimate dream, however, extends beyond the kitchen. He aspires to be a public figure in the world of food, spreading the gospel of good food and culture. “It’s not just fuel, it’s culture, it’s something so uniquely human,” he passionately explains.
Lewis’s journey on Young MasterChef is more than a quest for culinary excellence; it’s a testament to his passion, creativity, and determination to make a difference. With his innovative approach to cooking and his desire to inspire and educate, Lewis is certainly a name to remember in the culinary world.