A chef from Liskeard has ‘done Cornwall proud’ after reaching the MasterChef semi-finals.

Twenty-two year old Charlie Walters has been working in kitchens since he was 14, but now he’s facing one of his biggest challenges as he takes on this year’s MasterChef competition. 

After wowing the judges in previous weeks with his rack of lamb, spiced cheese and vegetable tart, and his own take on rhubarb and custard, Charlie sailed through to knock-out week, as the youngest chef remaining in the competition, he now faced a strong set of chefs from across the country. 

Living in Liskeard, Charlie has worked in restaurants across Devon and Cornwall. Training at Cornwall College, he then went on to work at places such as The Elephant and The Mariners by Paul Ainsworth, however, he now works at The Sardine Factory in Looe.

“When I was younger I did a lot of baking with my mum on weekends,” Charlie explained. “But I always wanted to be a policeman growing up. It all snowballed from my first kitchen porter job at 14. I fell in love with it straight away. I remember my parents picking me up from shifts that finished at 1am and then dropping me back off in the morning. It didn’t put me off!”

Since then, Charlie has worked his way up, even working in some Michelin star restaurants. “I worked in a Michelin star kitchen for six months and that’s where I really started to develop my skills.”

This week, Charlie showed his cooking skills in two rounds, in the first he produced a pan-fried turmeric and cumin-spiced hake, saffron carrot puree, chilli and carrot-top pesto, confit purple potato with a carrot and onion bhaji, impressing judges with his flavour but not blowing them away due to the dish’s simplicity.

The second round asked chef’s to show their skills in a commercial kitchen, producing street food meals for customers. Charlie opted to create a jackfruit bao bun with oyster mushrooms, crispy onions and a pickled cabbage. 

For his final dish, Charlie produced a tribute to Cornwall, saying “my home is everything to me”. Cooking for his place in the semi-finals, he produced Cornish steamed turbot, roasted potatoes topped with anchovy butter, honey, pickled fennel and caviar, asparagus in a seaweed emulsion, and a Cornish clotted cream and champagne sauce. 

Highlighting his ability, judge Monica Galetti said he’d “done Cornwall proud”, as he blew the judges away with his balance of flavours, and beautifully cooked fish. 

After displaying his culinary talent, Charlie cemented his place in the this year’s semi-finals.

He said: “For me to be here, to call myself a semi-finalist, I couldn’t be prouder”