As Greg Wallace was unwell, judge of MasterChef: The Professionals, Anna Haugh joined John Torode in last night’s episode (Tuesday, May 16).
Nikolas is 31, works as a delivery driver, and lives in Darlington with his wife and five-year-old daughter.
The remaining contestants were given the task of creating a dish they would be happy to serve in their restaurant or to have in their cookbook.
Venezuelan-born Nikolas uses French techniques and brings the flavours of Latin America to his food.
As the judges walked round the kitchen space, Nikolas was preparing fillet of beef with sweetcorn and poblano velouté, Peruvian huacatay oil, seared king oyster mushroom, chimichurri sauce, and a porcini mushroom tweel.
Nikolas told the judges: “Ideally my dream is to have my own restaurant, and it would be Latin-inspired flavours with French execution. I want it to be something that people from South America can say ‘wow, we’re proud of this guy. He’s doing our name right.’”
Anna Haugh told Nikolas: “The dish looks beautiful. Everything you’ve promised, I can see it on the plate.
“The beef is perfectly cooked, the chimichurri kind of wakes you up. You’ve got the sweetness of the sweetcorn and then this little ‘hello’ at the end.”
John Torode said: “Your velouté is lovely and smooth. It’s subtle with sweetcorn. Your oil around the outside, this herb from Latin America, it’s almost like a tarragon mint flavour, I think that’s really good.”
Nikolas said: “I’m an amateur cook but I just feel like I’m ready for new horizons. I can see my restaurant already, I can visualise it. I’m buzzing. I’m buzzing!”
In the second half of the programme, after one contestant left, the five remaining cooks were given the task of cooking in a professional restaurant service at Decimo at London Kings Cross.
Never having worked with pigeon before, Nikolas was put in charge of filleting and cooking the pigeon breasts and browning the legs for lunch service.
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He also had to cook a stew of white beans and Spanish sausage which the pigeon was served on, and carrots with orange zest on the side.
After watching chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias demonstrate how to make the dish, Nikolas tasted it and said: “Wow. Tasting it is making me feel a bit more scared because it’s really delicious so I need to make sure I’ve got it to the standard.”
Toward the ed of lunch service, Nikolas said: “I think practice makes perfect. The more I make, the better I’ll get I suppose. I’m loving the experience though, it’s manic but I like it. The adrenaline’s rushing.”
After trying Nikolas’ dish, John Torode said: “The cooking of the pigeon is absolutely perfect. I think Nikolas has done a great job. Wonderful soft beans underneath that pigeon, the flavours are dancing all over the place. Absolutely fantastic.”