Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing has called Yasmine Selwood a ‘superwoman’ for fulfilling her ambitions to take a degree and get on to MasterChef – as a single mother of four daughters.
Tonight, millions of viewers will be able to see the city-based UCB graduate returning to BBC One’s MasterChef: The Professionals’ quarter-final after storming through her heat.
Judges Gregg Wallace, Marcus Wareing and Monica Galetti weren’t just bowled over by Yasmine’s cooking in her first appearance – they were also captivated by her cheerful personality and how she first began to hone her skills when she was a stay at home mother.
“I decided that it was time to start doing a little bit of something for myself,” Yasmine told them. “I wanted to have a go at fine dining. I found a culinary college and just went for it from there.”
With four young girls aged from eight to 14 to look after while studying and putting her skills into commercial practice, Michelin-starred chef Marcus simply said: “Wow… Superwoman!”
Yasmine graduated this year having won the Outstanding Student Citizenship Award at UCB.
Now she’s following in the trailblazing Jamaican-Brummie footsteps of Rustie Lee who had an eight-year residency on TV-am (Good Morning Britain’s forerunner) after graduating with distinction as a Master Baker from the then Birmingham College of Food and Domestic Science.
Having been on the show and then watched herself on TV from the comfort of her own living room, is there anything she’d tell herself before that first heat of MasterChef: The Professionals if she could go back in time?
Yasmine, whose two youngest girls are twins, said: “If I could go back and talk to myself, I would tell myself to forget about being nervous and to just enjoy the experience even more.”
Friends and family went round to Yasmine’s house to watch her heat going out on TV.
“It was surreal to watch it back as I felt all of the surprises they were going through,” said West Bromwich-born Yasmine, 34.
“Everyone was asking me: ‘What happens next, what happens next’ and it was nice to experience that with them.”
How did Yasmine think she came across on TV – was she her true self or someone playing up for the cameras?
“Everyone who knows me knows how ‘girly’ I can be,” she laughs.
“I really think that came over.
“I’ve had such a wonderful response to my appearance in the heats from people I don’t even know. After Covid I’d been made redundant from a job I had worked really hard to get.
“So then you start to think: ‘Is cooking the best route to be going down?’
“I’m a personal chef now – and I’ve also been on MasterChef: The Professionals and got through to the quarter finals which everyone can see tonight.
“That alone has been a wonderful journey and given me so much more confidence.”
Power of motherhood
Yasmine is conscious of the fact that she’s done things the ‘other way round’ to many people by having a family, getting a degree and then pushing herself at work, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m a single parent and my girls see dad at weekends,” says Yasmine.
“By getting my degree and going on Masterchef Professionals, I’ve already achieved my two personal lifetime dreams.
“Watching it back my two oldest, 14 and 12, were saying they were so impressed with mum and things like ‘Mum’s a celebrity’ and could I make dinner for them.
“My two twins, eight, were like they didn’t care at all!”
Going forward, Yasmine says: “I’d have to do something that works around them, they are always at the forefront of my mind.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices to gain the skills and knowledge that I have.
“In turn, the girls really support that I have something I want to do – they’ve seen me go to university despite the fact I had them first.
“I think that is empowering for them… it’s sending a message that they do anything they want to with hard work and perseverance.”
When the presenters realised she had four children, Marcus Wareing simply said: “Superwoman!”
Yasmine on TV
This is what Yasmine told the chefs and viewers at the start of what turned out to be her successful heat.
“I grew up in a Jamaican household, my mum cooked all-Jamaican food,” she said.
“Getting to grips with British food has been fun, it’s not all about fish and chips and soggy mashed potatoes.
“I take notes for ideas… and link it all back to food.
“I am so excited as you can probably tell from all of my grinning.”
Although her skills test was judged “incomplete”, Yasmine came out fighting for her two course meal cooked in 90 minutes.
“The pressure’s on now, she said.
“If I thought there was pressure before, now it’s on, on.
“This is the Masterchef Kitchen and I really need to bring it, I don’t think I’ve gone that yet.”
Yasmine cooked brill (a flatfish from the turbot family) with spring veg, asparagus and a white wine and cream sauce split with dill oil followed by a caramelised white chocolate mousse with a blood orange jelly and an orange buttered biscuit.
“This is what I created for my final exam,” she said. “Something really close to my heart.”
What the judges’ said about Yasmine’s main course
Marcus Wareing: “Yasmine’s main course was the dish of the day because she got every element right and that sauce was knockout.”
Gregg Wallace: “It’s dainty, its beautiful. Your touch is good. Your sauce is lovely.”
Monica: “The sauce has a hint of miso running through it, and the lovely dill oil finishes it. A simple dish yet really tasty, it’s lovely.”
BrumWish 2021 aims to get thousands of Christmas gifts to young children in need across our city – the homeless, the vulnerable, kids in care and kids who have little.
This year’s appeal is bigger and better than ever – because we have teamed up with our partners at #Toys4Birmingham, including Thrive Together Birmingham, the Birmingham Playcare Network, the Edgbaston Foundation and Birmingham Forward Steps.
Also involved are Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Barnardo’s, Spurgeon’s children’s charity, the Springfield project in Sparkhill, St Paul’s Community Development Trust and Your Local Pantry, which runs food hubs in 12 locations across Birmingham and the Black Country.
You can buy a gift from the #Brumwish Amazon Wishlist here.
Or you can collect and drop off donations of new and nearly new toys and gifts to special donation days at Edgbaston Stadium, B5 7QU, on Saturday November 27, Friday December 3 and Saturday December 4, from 11am to 3pm, where volunteers will be waiting to see you.
Brand new or nearly new, unwrapped gifts, books and toys for all ages will be accepted.
You can also donate cash, which will go into a fund held by a charity partner to use to plug gaps or buy specialist toys for children with additional needs. This is the link to make a donation.
Gregg: “I love the flavours I love the flavours of that because the flavours are sharp but not too sharp. A really nice counterbalance to that caramel sweetness. A really nice balance.”
Monica: “Yasmine doesn’t over complicate her food… her dessert had the most flavour, taste and texture… it’s been a good introduction to who she is as a chef.”
Reacting to their comments, Yasmine said: “I’m really happy with the feedback. Monica, Greg and Marcus liked my cookin’. Yay, I’m happy. Today was the hardest thing I have ever been through as a chef. I’m so happy, I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
When is MasterChef: The Professionals on?
Yasmine is on MasterChef: The Professionals Quarter-Final tonight from 8.30pm on BBC One (Friday, December 3).
The series’ semi-finals will be on BBC One next week from Tuesday to Thursday, December 7-9.
The finals will be held from Tuesday to Thursday, December 14-16, also at 9pm on BBC1 each night.