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James Checkley

MasterChef: The Professionals finalist reflects on his time on the show
The Galley Restaurant head chef James Checkley

MasterChef: The Professionals finalist James Checkley reflects on his time on the show and his new role as head chef of The Galley in Topsham

Which kitchen item couldn’t you live without?

I’d be lost without my knives or my trusty hand blender.

What do you listen to in the kitchen?

Right now, it’s quite a mix as my sous chef loves Bon Jovi – and I don’t. When I get my hands on the speaker it ranges from Al Green to Blink 182, with lots of hip-hop in between.

Career highlight to date?

Without a doubt it was making it to the finals of MasterChef. It was the most amazing experience and I’d encourage any chef to take part.

Your most-read recipe book?

I absolutely love Out of My Tree, the autobiography and cookbook by Daniel Clifford, and Pollen Street: The Cookbook by Jason Atherton. They are both beautiful books, filled with amazing recipes and insights into the kind of food I love.

Favourite place to eat out?

I haven’t been out to eat in such a long time, but The Rising Sun Inn in Altarnun, Cornwall, was utterly superb when I visited recently. Class from start to finish.

Best staycation spot?

I think Devon is a great staycation spot because we have such amazing food, places to visit and scenery. However, I am biased, so failing Devon I do like going up to London.

Guilty food pleasure?

KFC. And I don’t even feel guilty choosing it!

Desert island meal?

I like the idea of my partner and me, with a cocktail in hand, enjoying a barbecue on the beach. She eats a plant-based diet, so at least on a desert island she’d have lots of fruits and veggies to choose from.

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