April 2023

MasterChef champ and ex-student Dan set for summer street food gig

By Killoran Wills

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MasterChef: The Professionals champion Dan Lee is back on home turf to launch a residency at Hockley Social Club – just around the corner from where he started his culinary training at University College Birmingham.

The four-month gig represents Dan’s first permanent venue since lifting the MasterChef title in 2021, which prompted a whirlwind year of promotions and guest appearances around the world.

But Dan, who won the 14th series of the popular BBC TV show, is a regular visitor to Summer Row because, as he says: “This is the place it all started for me.”

Last year, he spent two days helping the next generation of chefs studying Professional Cookery Level 3 hone their skills for a special dinner at the University’s award-winning restaurant.

On another occasion, he told students: “What you do at college prepares you for your career. I have worked around the world, with different cuisines and cultures, but the fundamental skills you learn here will take you forward.”

Dan’s passion lies in the kitchen and the prospect of cooking accessible food in the heart of Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter holds massive appeal.

Dan was dubbed a "star in the making" by MasterChef judge and Michelin-starred restaurant owner Marcus Wareing

“I have come back to my roots, and it feels really good,” said Dan, who will be serving up Hainanese Chicken Rice, Siu Mai, Char Siu Bao, chicken and pandan broth and Hong Kong Ice Milk Tea from 1 June.

“Making my food as accessible as possible is important to me so there will be a range of dishes from as little as £6 on the menu.

“The origins of my food lie in simple dishes made on the streets of Asia, so to cook them at the home of street food in Birmingham, Hockley Social Club, is going to be a great buzz.”

Dan grew up in Birmingham and was introduced to cooking at his auntie's Chinese takeaway, inspiring him to start his training at University College Birmingham. 

Spending much of the next decade in Singapore, he gathered culinary inspiration from many sources in the Far East and combined them with the influences of his upbringing in the UK, creating a style of modern European and Asian cuisine which won over the judges in the MasterChef: The Professionals competition.

Dan is not the only one setting up camp in the UK’s second city. 

BBC's MasterChef will also be based in Birmingham from next year, the first time it will be made outside London for more than 20 years. It will relocate to the new Digbeth Loc Studios, run by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.

Interested in a career in food and hospitality? Our renowned Birmingham College of Food offers a wide variety of hands-on courses for college, undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Discover our full range of courses here.

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