A COTSWOLD chef will have his skills put to the test tonight in front of millions.

Dave John Hall, head chef at Whistlers in Chipping Norton, makes his screen debut as he appears in popular BBC show MasterChef: The Professionals.

The programme, which airs at 8pm on BBC Two, sees Mr Hall face off against five other professionals in his heat, with a place in Thursday’s quarter-finals up for grabs.

The 35-year-old is under strict orders to not reveal how he got on, but admitted he was a little starstruck at rubbing shoulders with so many other talented chefs.

He said: “It was a dream come true.

“I’ve been watching it for a number of years and meeting those kind of chefs is something I’ve always wanted to do.

“They are icons - a chef’s rock star. It was so out of my comfort zone but I had a blast.”

Mr Hall and his competitors had to complete a skills test before producing a signature dish for presenter Gregg Wallace, chef Monica Galetti and two-Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing.

Over the course of seven weeks, the show’s 48 professionals are whittled down to one champion, but thousands have already fallen.

The Whistlers chef was among 20,000 to apply, before navigating an intense application process stretching back to when he first made contact last December.

He said: “They really put you through your paces to see if you can do everything you say you can.

“You need to be able to produce something good enough to make the TV show.”

The 48 chefs share several Michelin stars and Mr Hall recalled competition was fierce.

He said: “This year, the show has its strongest group of chefs it has ever had.

“I did the best I could and I’m so proud of even getting there. Only my wife knows how I did - I couldn’t keep it from her.”

Mr Hall has an impressive CV of his own, having worked at the best restaurants in the Cotswolds for several years.

When he was head chef at The Killingworth Castle in Wootton, near Woodstock, the hotel was awarded its two AA rosettes.

He lives just over the Gloucestershire border in Moreton-in-Marsh with his wife and two children, and has now worked at Whistlers for three-and-a-half years.

This is his longest stint at any restaurant to date and Mr Hall puts this down to an understanding between himself and the management.

He said: “It gives me the creative freedom

“There’s a lot of trust on both sides.”

The chef will be working while the show is broadcast, but he prefers it that way.

He said: “If I was at home I’d be watching from behind the sofa - even the trailer makes me anxious.”