Food Q&A: MasterChef: The Professionals 2022 contestant Sagar Massey

The hotel chef loves chole bhature, but not peas

Published 28th Nov 2022
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

What’s your favourite ingredient?

Fish. I am especially enjoying working with scallops and halibut this season. The seafood in Scotland is always so fresh so it makes cooking with it easy. I like spicier food and because halibut is a meatier fish, it handles a heavier marinade really well. When it comes to scallops, you have to keep them simple. I prefer to cook them in the shell over charcoal, with a pinch of salt.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

There’s an Indian dish called chole bhature that I can’t resist. It’s a chickpea curry served with puffed deep-fried chapatis. It’s usually cooked in ghee and butter, so you wouldn’t have it every day, but it’s so delicious.

Tell us about your first food memory?

My first food memory is watching my mum cooking at home. She was always first in the kitchen to make breakfast for us before school then she’d prepare lunch and dinner for the rest of the day. While I was growing up, the kitchen was my favourite place to be. Both my parents are cooks so we always had a busy dinner table with friends and family. I remember my mum cooking over an open fire, so the smell of a fire always brings me back to my childhood.

What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli, or cafe?

I don’t really go out for meals very much, but if I do, I like to visit Dishoom in Edinburgh. The food is authentic, and the team is so friendly. My favourite dish would have to be their keema pau.

What would be your last supper?

To start it would have to be chole bhature followed by my mum’s chicken biryani. For pudding, I would have kheer – an Indian rice pudding-style dish - with cardamon and dried fruit.

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Starter or pudding?

Always a starter. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

Do you have any food hates?

Green peas are something I would always try to avoid but I’m starting to get used to them. Coffee is another taste I don’t really like – it’s too bitter for me.

What starters, main, and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?

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My starter would be scallops with chilli jam and a lemon butter sauce. For the main I would serve lamb with a tangy lamb sauce and spicy aubergine caponata. For dessert, I would make ghewar with marinated strawberries in balsamic vinegar and cream using goat’s curd to balance out the sweetness. I’d invite my parents and the rest of my family as well as Christopher Watson, who was my lecturer from college, Graham Cheevers from Unalome and my executive chef Derek Johnstone.

What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

It has to be India. Japan would be my second choice. I love ramen and noodles so would love to visit and try all the best places.

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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