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Specialized Profession-LiveHi. I am Gary Maclean, the 2016 MasterChef: the Professionals UK champion AMA!

Oct 29th 2017 by GaryMaclean • 11 Questions • 2258 Points

EDIT: Thanks for your questions, I really appreciate your interest. Its always good to know that there are many people out there who care deeply about the natural world. I think before we think about Mars, we need to look after Earth. Take care

Brent

Hey my name is Brent Stirton and I’m a South African photographer with a lot of experience in the documentary world. I currently spend most of my time working on long-term investigative projects for National Geographic Magazine, but my work has been published in Vanity Fair, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, and other outlets. I have a big passion for issues related to wildlife, conservation, global health, diminishing cultures, sustainability and the environment.

Last week, I was named the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year by the Natural History Museum for this piece I did on rhino poaching: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/10/dark-world-of-the-rhino-horn-trade/

Other projects: https://www.brentstirton.com/state-of-blindness/ https://proof.nationalgeographic.com/2013/12/13/brent-stirton-an-ode-to-nelson-mandela/ https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2016/07/questions-and-answers-brent-stirton/ https://www.brentstirton.com

Proof: https://twitter.com/NatGeo/status/923912301144571904

Q:

For the home cook, willing to take extra steps, what are the tips for making restaurant quality, moist grilled or baked chicken breasts at home?

A:

I love Gamers Gift! What is the end goal for each of you outside of Gamers Gift? What skills do you bring from your other experiences into Gamers Gift?


Q:

What has been your favorite project to photograph?

A:

The first thing is to buy the best chicken possible, cheap chicken is full of water and will be poor even if cooked properly. Always buy chicken breast with the skin on this will help keep the moisture in. Pan fry in a very hot pan skin side down until golden, turn over on the non skin side for a few minutes. Finish in a hot oven 200C and cook until it reaches 73-75 C allow to rest before cutting.


Q:

I want to do something amazing with technology, something that makes an impact on the present and future. This includes, but is not limited to, an evil death ray. I'm a really good Googler, so anytime we need something I always have a solution: 'Google it!' - Dillon

A:

It's tough to pick a favorite project, I tend to work on things I feel I should, that often means they're difficult and when I'm shooting I'm worried that I'm not getting it right. I'm also someone who once he has finished something, doesn't want to look back on it. I can say anything where I can make images with emotional content, that's what I am drawn to. As for favorite project, that would be the next one.


Q:

Thank you very much! Do you recommend marinating or prepping the chicken beforehand and if so, how far in advance, i.e. one hour or 24 hours. Thank you, no more follow-up questions :-).

A:

I love Gamers Gift! What is the end goal for each of you outside of Gamers Gift? What skills do you bring from your other experiences into Gamers Gift?


Q:

Hi Brent! What is your favorite animal to photograph? Is there one that is particularly difficult to photograph?

A:

Yes 24 hours marinating will make a huge difference. Avoid citrus and salt if you are going that long. Spices hard herbs and a little good oil are amazing.


Q:

Green! I have a green car. -Amber

A:

I think I like mountain gorillas, particularly the Silverbacks. They're really amazing to be around. Second would be elephants, they're always majestic. None of them are easy to photograph. I tend to photograph the intersection between man and wildlife, I don't often have the time to focus purely on the animal.


Q:

Being MasterChief, do you feel the alliance with the Covenant was worth it or could we have taken the Brutes and the Covenant on by ourselves?

A:

What types of vr “experiences” do the groups you work with enjoy most?


Q:

What would be some of the less obvious steps you needed to take to get where you are today as a world-renowned photographer? Is there anything you would do differently in retrospect?

A:

Left field question. Without the Arbiter's help on Delta Halo, Tartarus would have activated the halo array ending all life in the Universe ending the series at Halo 2. (Answered with help from Ewan my son)


Q:

TheBlu scuba diving experience is a very good introduction for most people. If they enjoy that, rollercoasters! After that we can begin introducing interactive experiences like snow skiing. -Dillon

A:

I think that I was very shy for a long time in my career so I did not market myself or go see potential clients. I didn't even go to World Press for the first few wins I had there. That was a mistake on my part. I think these days you can use social media to put out your work and still be a reserved person. As for world-renowned, those goal posts just keep moving. The better you get, the more you need to ask of yourself.


Q:

Do you consider hot dogs to be a sandwich?

A:

Nice. I brought my grandpa in to my college to use the vr set up in our library to show him Google Earth and walk around Rome. He liked it but got a headache after like ten minutes.


Q:

What was your goal in the beginning of your career?

A:

I am not sure hotdogs are food.


Q:

Do you remember what hardware you used?

A:

My goal was to pay my bills through photography so I did all kinds of pictures. I found out about photojournalism after the first year and that changed a lot for me. I started working on anti-apartheid issues in South Africa and it became important to me to defend the good guys


Q:

Do you like the massive photo of yourself adorning the side of the college?

A:

Who is your favorite Team GG streamer who streams on the Gamers Gift Twitch channel?

On a more serious note, what it the end goal for Gamers Gift, do you hope to eventually be a larger organization helping people across the US?

You all are awesome and keep doing the good things you do!


Q:

Hi Brent! Have you ever been in a shoot where you were personally in danger but stayed to get the shot? e.g. Paul Nicklen and the leopard seals

A:

Its not my best side, Its very strange going past it everyday but its a great complement from the college that they would stick my mug on their brand new building.


Q:

I'll in be in Central California next week, Bay Area the week after, and SoCal in December for visits. Every person in the world facing hardship deserves the escape VR provides. -Dillon

A:

The dangers I've had have come far more from people. For example, I have been in a number of situations with Rangers where we are being fired on by rebels who are poaching. I also worked in Iraq and Afghanistan where its normal to be under fire at some point. That said, I have had to run up plenty of thorn trees to get away from charging rhinos. Elephants too, and they are really scary as they can knock the tree down and they are really tall. I try not to agitate them when I'm working but sometimes I am in the wrong place at the wrong time. As for Paul, he's a genuine animal whisperer, I don't have his skillset so generally I have run faster than the guy next to me if the animal decides to charge


Q:

It's great, and a good reminder of your accomplishment. On a food note, I find I under cook garlic quite often since I'm concerned with burning it. Any good tips?

A:

This sounds a bit like an episode of Black Mirror, do you get that comparison a lot?


Q:

Cannon or nikon?

A:

Get a garlic crusher and add the garlic as soon as you have moisture in the pan.


Q:

It's almost got a San Junipero vibe, huh? No one has told us that before but anything related to VR - especially towards groups that could become so dependent on it - has Black Mirror-level concerns.

Also, Ready Player One if you've read it.

  • Dillon
A:

Canon for me


Q:

What's the worst sandwich you ever eaten and where?

A:

Yeah, but the detractors didn’t have a high enough rating and were cast out of society.


Q:

Hi Brent! Love your work, both photographically and in terms of raising awareness of pressing conservation matters.

Do you have any advice for an aspiring wildlife photographer such as myself on how to turn it from a hobby into a career? I'd love to end up doing wildlife photography like you do (especially with a focus on conservation) as my career, but i'm only just starting out (been going for a year now) and would massively appreciate any snippets of advice you're willing to share.

A:

I cant remember the worst sandwich but the best was in a deli in New York.


Q:

I personally can't use any of the gear for more than a couple hours. Just kind of gives me a bit of a headache. -Amber

A:

I'd say be disciplined and find projects to work on. Try to shoot the A-Z of the issue and then use social media and targeted emails to try and publish. Don't neglect any other work that comes up, even if its weddings, its important to put some money away to finance your projects. Commit to this for the long term and you will be successful. Don't spend all your money on gear, buy used and get what you really need, don't be fooled by marketing. I can do my job with gear that came out 6 years ago for the most part. Spend your money on producing the story you care about.


Q:

What's your favourite food?

A:

If Gamer's Gift were to receive more money over time, how would those funds be used? How should we expect our money to be used, if we were to donate?


Q:

How do you deal with all the bugs? Is it ever a concern to get bitten by bugs? Any tips to deal with mosquitoes, or other flying pests?

A:

I am a big fan of Scottish shellfish but when I travel I love trying new things.


Q:

That's a good question! As a nonprofit we do not get paid so the money mostly goes to two things. Either it goes outreach for more headsets, game systems, and other outreach opportunities (like when we gave a refugee school chrome books). Or towards fundraising and advertising. With events we can foster a great community that gets connected with the cause and we can grow a bit. Some events are free for us to do like community game nights over the internet or art exchanges but for awesome events like the GG:WP, tournaments, etc we need money to rent venues, food and any other cost associated with that.

If you want any more information we do have a transparency page on our website you can check out that breaks down everything! Sorry for the formatting though I'm on mobile. http://gamersgift.org/transparency/

-Sean

A:

Bugs are inevitable, you want to avoid being bitten by mosquitos as much as you can but you're in their space. Wear long sleeves and pants at night, use an eco-friendly non-deet spray, and if its really crazy, use a hat with a net. I worked in CAR recently and was getting stung by bees more than 50 times a day so also check that you don't have allergies. Its a good idea to take an Epi-pen if you can


Q:

On the subject, do you like spanish food?

A:

I am a environment modeler that is working with a VR startup based in Seattle. I appreciate your initiative in using VR as a tool to help people rather just as a form of entertainment for consumers. Is there any way I can help or get involved?


Q:

With shots like these, how difficult is it to deal with the emotions of seeing something like that? Does that at all impact whats going through your mind in terms of composition and other techniques you use?

A:

I don't know too much about Spanish food, I am going to the south of Spain in January so hopefully I will get to enjoy some local Spanish food and learn a little more about it.


Q:

On a basic level you can join us in our 24 Hour Livestream TODAY at 9am PST: http://gamersgift.org/gglp and join our community of people across the world.

Corporation donations and partnerships work wonders. Just some quick brainstorming, we could schedule a visit up in Seattle with your company or you could help us model certain programs, etc. Email me at [email protected] and we'll talk specifics!

  • Dillon
A:

Well, on this story I went to more than thirty sites with dead rhinos, I was looking for something that would have sufficient emotional resonance. When rhinos are killed, the carcass deflates very quickly and scavengers pull it apart. As a result, I needed to find an animal that still had dignity and was capable of arousing pathos in people. I also need to make the picture quickly so that I don't interfere in the forensic investigation. So truthfully, I only allow myself to be emotional after I have taken care of all those aspects which allow me to make the picture. I do feel very angry about these killings, there are good people on the ground who do not have the support they need due to a failure of leadership both in Africa and in Asia


Q:

Gary, would you rather have a hand made of ham or an armpit that can dispense sun cream?

The ham grows back over time, and the sun cream can be any factor of your choice but you’ll only be able to squeeze out two bottles worth in a year.

Asking for a friend.

A:

What are your favorite Dinosaurs?


Q:

Hi Brent, how do you choose your projects and do you have advice for creative people who also want to make an impact? Thanks!

A:

Tough one but being a ginger I think I would need the sun cream first.


Q:

Saurolophus because of Ducky from Land Before Time.

-Amber

A:

I choose my projects based on what I think is the greatest need. I am also asked to do projects which I feel I should do. Its a mix. As for creatives, I would say use any channel you can to get the word out. If you work for an agency, see if they can do some pro bono work on these issues. Try to help NGO's that deserve it. People like the EIA and the IAPF, but do your research first as to who is really effective. Creatives can be really valuable in raising public awareness, the biggest issue is ignorance on all sides


Q:

What’s your favorite kind of cheese 🧀?

A:

what about porn?


Q:

Hi Brent! Do you have specific communities you have established around the world, or mainly the places you travel for assignments, of people you trust and that can help you? You must have to work under the radar a lot and I’m wondering how you manage those uncertain human factors...

A:

I am a big fan of cheese. Smoked cheddar cheese works for me. Love cooking with parmesan


Q:

The elderly joke about this more often than you'd expect. - Dillon

A:

I'm fortunate to have built good relations in a number of places, my contacts are really essential. I do prefer to work quietly and to do that I keep only a very small circle of people around me when we are shooting. I think if you treat people with respect and really make an effort to dignify and understand their jobs, you can make friendships based on mutual respect


Q:

What is your favourite flavour crisp?

A:

Prawn cocktail. Love crisps too much


Q:

I live in Canada and I bloody miss a prawn cocktail crisp. See also Greggs, Lorne sausage, tottie scones and Morton's rolls.

A:

You must be from Glasgow. The only problem travelling the crisps are rubbish


Q:

Ha! Close enough! I'd walk over hot coals for a fresh Morton's roll w bacon, potato scone and a fried egg. And don't even get me started on a pizza supper :(

A:

Brilliant in batter or straight in?


Q:

What can you make from these ingredients?

Old ramen noodles, baking soda, lumpy milk, half of an apple

A:

Enemy's


Q:

What is the best way to cook an egg?

A:

Depends what you like


Q:

I mean in your opinion (I feel a professional opinion would benefit my cooking)?

A:

Eggs are one of the most important ingredients we have used in thousands dishes. Each way requires a different way of dealing with the egg. Learning how to poach an egg will give you some understanding of how a egg works


Q:

Loved you in Halo! What do you prefer: cooking, or fighting space aliens to save mankind?

A:

Cooking every time


Q:

How do you stand in front of Monica Galetti for a technical challenge without shitting yourself? Some of her reaction shots would have me crying in apology.

A:

Probably the hardest bit of the whole experience.


Q:

Are you aware that you look like Ed Sheeran who’s come back from the future?

A:

Brilliant not too far back I hope


Q:

What subs on Reddit do you frequent?

A:

This is the first time on it. But will enjoy looking around


Q:

Do you agree well done steak ruins the quality of the meat?

A:

I think it ruins the texture moisture and flavour. Unless it's braised


Q:

Very important question, Gary:

What do you consider the best spices to go with steak?

A:

At home I have been using Old Bay seasoning. I discovered it in Maryland earlier this year. Just love it


Q:

Is basil really getting bitter if I add it to the tomato sauce at the beginning?

A:

Fresh basil always at the end. Dried in a tomato based sauce at the start. Both have very different flavour.


Q:

Best homemade sauce?

And favorite quick/easy meal to make for yourself?

A:

When I want a quick bite I with zero work it would be salad cheese and cured meats


Q:

Have you any words of advice for an aspiring chef ?

A:

Work in the best places possible don't chase money, work harder and longer than anyone and find a very very understanding other half


Q:

Hi Gary! My girlfriend and I cheered for you to win the entire season and we're ecstatic when you did. Congrats on your success!

In your experience as a lecturer, what would you say are the most difficult skills for new cooks to learn?

A:

Remembering to taste the food.

First three rules in cooking taste taste taste


Q:

How did you feel when you won?

A:

Shocked took a long time for it to sink in even now it's hard to believe it happened


Q:

Oh my god! Me and my Boyfriend LOVED you on the show. You are so passionate and loving for your food and your family!

My question is... will Scotland always be home? Or will you venture far out to seek new flavours?

A:

It will always be home. However this year I have been working all over the world.


Q:

What do you do.. when you're bored of the position you're in.. And the only way itl get exciting probably involves a step back in position and pay.. but you really can't afford to get paid less?

A:

If you have two days off stage in the best restaurant you can for one day a week. This will give you a real buzz enhance your c.v skills and also help you get a better job on more pay.


Q:

Is the show scripted to any extent? Or is everything shot live?

A:

No it's exactly as you see it the timings are real. No stopping or retakes it's a competition that's getting filmed.


Q:

Bald Ed Sheeran?

A:

I can't sing and am old enough to be his dad. But thanks I might buy a wig


Q:

Best british dish?

A:

Can't see past a good steak pie


Q:

Steak or steak and kidney?

A:

Steak


Q:

Hi Gary. Really enjoyed that series. What has changed for you since?

A:

Loads it is an amazing platform and I have worked nonstop to enjoy the opportunity


Q:

Cool. Has it boosted the college's status? More students applying, that kind of thing?

A:

Yes the college has been great. We are full every year so it can't make an impact. The students are just giving me a bit more banter


Q:

How do these type of shows manage to keep things secret? I mean, when I watch MC which is obviosuly recorded and at the end of one show, they say "next week on MC..."
How do they stop things being leaked?

A:

I think everyone involved knows how important it is that the need of who is going or who wins. Also the press would never print any spoilers.


Q:

Hi Gary,

What is currently your favourite restaurant in Glasgow and Edinburgh?

A:

The Ox and Finch Glasgow


Q:

What's a great way to spice up simple scrambled eggs?

A:

Smoked salmon classic hard to beat


Q:

Hi! What are your favorite spice blends to add heat to dishes, without overpowering them?

A:

Dried chilli flake works great. Easy to figure out how much you like.


Q:

What's your method for making a cheese omelette?

A:

I cheat cooking omelettes at home I use cool pan bit of butter three eggs no colour let it set a bit in the stove add the cheese and finish under the grill


Q:

Hey Gary, What is a tool you often see in people's home kitchen that is really unnecessary?

A:

Most gadgets in home are under used people should invest on good quality knives.


Q:

Haw Gary, I loved you on Masterchef. Proper inspiring and your passion came through everything you did. Did you feel under any pressure after the show to open a restaurant or move away from teaching?

A:

No everyone expects me to open my own restaurant but what people don't know I have spent most of my life opening restaurants. I love working at the college and can make a real difference working with the next generations of chef


Q:

Salmon skin facing up or down when baked in a convection oven?

A:

I pan fry skin side down then finish in the oven skin side up


Q:

Congratulations, firstly - Is cereal a soup? Secondly, what were you most tedious tasks to complete in any of your dishes over the show?

A:

Making rose crisps in Norway and you might have a good point on the cereal soup question.


Q:

Hi Gary, congratulations with everything! Would you ever use a slow cooker? If so what would you recommend I cook in it?

A:

I used a slow cooker years ago with some good results. I have now changed to a pressure cooker. Much better and no loss of flavours. I use it for everything from stews to curries and soups


Q:

Hi Gary,

Congratulations on winning!

Since seeing Masterchef I have wanted to eat at your Caley restaurant in Glasgow. As it is a student chef place, is the menu yours or the students, and does the food more accurately represent you or the students?

This may be an odd question...

A:

Good question the lecturing staff write the menus most of the time the forth year students write their own. All the food is prepaired and cooked by the students guided buy the staff


Q:

What happens to the food not eaten by the judges? Do they just throw it away or something? And in between scenes where you're not filming what do you guys usually do?

A:

The food is usually eaten by the crew. We are in the MC couch room most of the time. We also do loads of interviews


Q:

Hi Gary ; my wife and I watched you on Masterchef. I predicted you as the winner on your second appearance.

  1. What's your favourite take on Eggs Benedict? How do you make it really special?

  2. Do Greg and John hate each other?

A:

Poached eggs good ham Hollandaise you can't go far wrong. John wasn't on my show. But I believe Greg and John are very good friends


Q:

Blackberry jus. Yeah or nay?

A:

Can work with game


Q:

Congrats on the win Gary! When you're cooking in the challenges involving feeding hundreds of people, how do you calculate portions and ratios of ingredients? Do the head chefs help?

A:

We didn't have any that involved that many people. But to do it you figure out the recipe for 4 and multiply it up.