Costa MasterChef - Dani Bowler tells his story

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - INSIDE THIS WEEK'S PAPER -

Life af­ter MasterChef told in his own words. Dani Bowler re­turned to the Costa Blanca this week and gives us an in­sider's view of the show and what lies ahead for him - and for CB­News read­ers too!

Af­ter my time on MasterChef - af­ter let­ting it all sink in - I had to go back to my ev­ery­day life as a man­ager for Wether­spoons, still not able to tell any­one un­til it was aired on the BBC.

Try­ing to get back to nor­mal life was hard and I found I couldn't con­cen­trate at work. Af­ter my ex­pe­ri­ence I re­alised I wanted to work with food, so on my days off I would travel down to Es­sex and gain ex­pe­ri­ence at the two-star rosette Roslin ho­tel and restau­rant, but af­ter a few months I de­cided to leave my job in Lon­don and move back to Spain to live with my girl­friend.

Not want­ing to take on a full time job and wait­ing for MasterChef to be aired I went about gain­ing more ex­pe­ri­ence in Span­ish kitchens, learn­ing how to cook tra­di­tional Span­ish food at restaurants like Rosas in San Juan who I be­lieve make the best paella I have tasted.

I also got the chance to meet the chefs at top restaurants in Ali­cante like Nou Manoli and Mon­estrell.

When MasterChef was fi­nally aired, I was amazed at the mes­sages and com­ments I re­ceived on Twit­ter and Face­book and old school friends and teach­ers from the Lady El­iz­a­beth School gave me great sup­port along the way.

At last when MasterChef was ad­ver­tised on the TV and I popped up on the trailer, I could fi­nally tell all my friends I was on the show af­ter months of hav­ing to keep it a se­cret. What a re­lief!

Get­ting through the first stages and mak­ing it to the quar­ter fi­nals was just amaz­ing and doors started to open. For ex­am­ple, when my girl­friend took me to a Miche­lin star restau­rant on the Costa Blanca for a treat and I got to meet the owner/head chef and he asked if I would like to work with them, that was amaz­ing and we are still in con­tact.

At the same time a cou­ple from Aus­tralia who I knew from a few years back made con­tact and asked if would I like to fly over and project- man­age the open­ing of a Span­ish restau­rant in Whit­sun­days which is next to the Great Bar­rier Reef.

As by then I had made it to the quar­ter­fi­nals and my next episode wasn't to be aired for a while on the BBC I de­cided to go.

New ex­pe­ri­ences

Get­ting to visit Sin­ga­pore, Syd­ney and swim with trop­i­cal fish out in the Great Bar­rier Reef along the way was as amaz­ing as my work with the new restau­rant putting my Span­ish knowl­edge into the wine and food menu and shop­ping around with dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers and teach­ing the chefs how to make a tra­di­tional paella and teach­ing the staff all about Rib­era del Duero and Rioja wines.

I was in my el­e­ment be­ing able to pass on the knowl­edge I had ac­quired work­ing in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try over the years. Like any restau­rant open­ing it was stress­ful but I got to work with some great in­di­vid­u­als and look for­ward to re­turn­ing there soon, I even made the Whit­sun­day's News, which was great.

Al­to­gether go­ing to Aus­tralia was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence, as only a few months back it was just a coun­try on a map to me and now I have project- man­aged a Span­ish restau­rant and vis­ited the reef!

… and more

Re­turn­ing to Europe from my time on the other side of the world, my girl­friend María - now my fi­ancée - and I trav­elled to Italy and the is­land of Sar­dinia where we spent the week vis­it­ing fish­ing vil­lages, vine­yards and real tra­di­tional Ital­ian restaurants.

On one oc­ca­sion I was talk­ing to the owner of the restau­rant about my ex­pe­ri­ence on MasterChef and I was in­vited to meet the chefs in the kitchen who showed me all the dif­fer­ent types of pasta they made. I was so in my el­e­ment and just wanted to get in­volved!

It is amaz­ing how much MasterChef is recog­nised and re­spected and while I was in Lon­don a few weeks af­ter fly­ing back from Aus­tralia I went to the Savoy Grill for lunch. I knew that a past MasterChef con­tes­tant was work­ing there so I asked if he was around but it was his day off. How­ever, af­ter lunch I was taken on a tour around the kitchen and got to meet the head chef and his team Such an in­cred­i­ble hon­our, and all this from be­ing on MasterChef.

Some recipes that car­ried me through the heats

My own favourite dish on the show had to be the 'lamb cut­lets, cele­riac purée with a port and Rioja jus' and the com­ments I re­ceived from the critic Wil­liam Sitwell were one of my per­sonal high­lights.

An­other dish I cooked was 'fil­let of sea bass, truf­fle mash and a mus­sel and saf­fron sauce' - this also got amaz­ing com­ments as my Call­ing Card and the first dish that I cooked on the show.

'Rab­bit and snail paella' went down a treat cook­ing for Tim An- der­son, Natalie Cole­man and Tim Kin­naird who where MasterChef win­ners and a past fi­nal­ist.

In the In­ven­tion Test I cooked 'pork ten­der­loin with a fig and Ser­rano ham glacé' and ' trio of pheas­ant cooked three ways' and serv­ing it to two-star Miche­lin chef Mar­cus War­ing was an­other high­light and hon­our on the show.

For the Palate Test we had to repli­cate John Torode's 'red jun­gle curry'

Look­ing back

I have kept in con­tact with the other con­tes­tants and made some re­ally good friends. You don't see them as ri­vals while you are on the show as we all un­der­stand what ev­ery­one is go­ing through and we be­came very close. Watch­ing the fi­nal this week I was de­lighted for Ping who won the ti­tle: she is a tal­ented cook and de­served to win! And look­ing for­ward… I am cur­rently liv­ing on the Costa Blanca with María and still haven't de­cided what's in my fu­ture - I am care­fully con­sid­er­ing all the op­por­tu­ni­ties I have been of­fered.

I have been 'en­joy­ing the ride' and tak­ing ad­van­tage of ev­ery mo­ment cook­ing as a pri­vate cook and cater­ing in people's homes along the coast. I will be pub­lish­ing some of my recipes in the Costa Blanca News next week so, don't miss it.

You can get in con­tact with me at info@dani­bowler.com

I would like to thank my mum and dad, my sis­ters and my fi­ancée and ev­ery­one for all their sup­port and their kind mes­sages over the last few months.

My jour­ney has been in­cred­i­ble and an ex­pe­ri­ence money can't buy. I re­mem­ber years ago I would watch MasterChef and dream about be­ing a con­tes­tant. I can't ig­nore the nerves, emo­tions, and stress I went through over the months but I can say is it was worth ev­ery minute and hope­fully it's just the start!

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