Friday 13th April 2012 marked the culmination of the Scottish heat of Great British Menu in which chefs Alan Murchison and Colin Buchan cooked their Olympic Menus for judges Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton. The winner would go on to compete in the finals at the end of the series. Monica Shaw guest blogger at Great British Chefs watched the finals. Discover who Friday the 13th was most unlucky for….
Blog post by Monica Shaw
This year, the premise of Great British Menu is for chefs to create a menu celebrating the Olympic Games that showcases British cooking at its best. And in Friday’s episode, the judges really got to the heart of what this is all about: “Olympians stop at nothing…these guys have got to do the same.” That meant ingredients, techniques and technologies that would surprise the judges and create phenomenal dishes.
To that end, if you’ve been watching Great British Menu this week, then you may already be tired of hearing the words “innovative” and “pushing boundaries”. But that’s what the show is all about, and to that end both Alan and Colin put up a pretty good fight from start to finish. With Alan’s steely competitiveness and Colin’s jolly easy-come-easy-go approach, the two made for great television.
The drama began with the starter, in which Alan’s duck terrine with five different textures of pineapple wowed all of the judges.
Meanwhile, Colin’s smoked pigeon breast and heart with nettle foam lacked the “wiz bangery” Mathew Fort would expect of an Olympic dish (at least Prue thought it was “lovely”).
Both chefs’ fish courses were remarkable. Alan’s grilled mackerel with beetroot meringues and horseradish ice cream was stunning, called “art on a plate” by Prue and “original, clever cooking” by Matthew. Colin’s bowl of poached halibut with squid ink, seaweed and celeriac consommé also received high praise for its use of original ingredients: “this fulfills the brief almost to perfection”, said Matthew.
But things took a turn for the worst with the mains – Alan’s barbecued veal with macaroni cheese, spinach and watercress was too dry, served with sweetbreads that were like a “cone of dryness” according to Oliver Peyton. Similarly, Colin’s loin of lamb with sweetbreads was “conventional to the point of boring.” Oh dear.
Going into the desserts it seemed like anyone’s game. Oliver Peyton was visibly confused by Colin’s beetroot cake with chocolate mousse and fennel ice cream. “I don’t get it.”
At least Alan’s “Going for Gold” with chocolate, caramel, olives and coffee inspired a few laughs, a pudding in the shape of an Olympic gold medal presented on pillows (and by servers in kilts no less).
But in the end, it was a great day for Alan Murchinson – and for Great British Chefs – as his Olympic menu won over Colin’s, two votes to one. And we can’t say we’re surprised – Alan’s Grilled mackerel, beetroot and horseradish ice-cream dish alone was an Olympic medal waiting to happen (“precise, beautiful cooking” said Oliver).
“There’s something quirky and crazy about Alan,” said Prue, and we think this works to his advantage. Well done, Alan for winning the Scottish heat! You can find more of Alan Murchison’s recipes on Great British Chefs website. If you’re in the UK you can watch this episode on BBC’s iPlayer for the next few days.
Next week, it’s the battle of the Central chefs with contenders Aktar Islam, Paul Foster and Great British Chefs’ Daniel Clifford You can see the full line up of chefs and judges for the Great British Menu 2012 here.
What did you think of the results of the Scottish finals? What would your Olympian dessert have been? We’re discussing this over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.