MasterChef contestants Chris Hale and Jo Mills are teaming up to run a pop-up restaurant from the Cedar Court Hotel teepee 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 there this year, and I was there in 2016 and developed an event catering business as a result of that, but now it feels like forever.
It really snowballed and I have 15 employees. We mainly work on events in the Leeds, Wakefield and Manchester triangle, but we also have a few cafes.
To access MasterChef you must be a complete amateur, so you have never been in a professional kitchen before. I did not participate with the intention of entering the industry. I had always watched the show, but never disclosed its scale until I was on it – it has 12 million viewers and social media can go crazy around it.
After the show, I did a pop-up, then another, but it snowballed from there. Initially it was the MasterChef name that opened doors, but now it’s about the food, and building on the reputation of what we’ve been doing.
I come from a customer experience perspective, not just food. Many trained chefs are all trained the same way, but a self-taught chef comes from creative passion and being a foodie.
I’ve always cooked, and like Chris, I loved watching MasterChef. I was cooking for other people, and they were saying why don’t you go on MasterChef.
I had taken early retirement from teaching, so I figured why not just do it.
It was a tough selection process to go through, there were phone interviews first, with a few rounds before having to cook on a zoom call for the producer.
Jo’s passion is tapas, so I thought, let’s go, but let’s make it festive tapas, so lots of little bites.
There is a lot of passion in Jo, and also a Mediterranean passion.
We were talking about a good meal, but we thought that with the teepee and logistically, it wouldn’t work.
It will be a cool environment in the teepee.
Pop-up dates are in December 2021, see Tribute nights in Harrogate and function room hire in Harrogate (cedarcourthotels.co.uk)
Inside the Cedar Court Teepee