1. Great British Menu 2012 Final Banquet

    This week marked the bittersweet end to the seventh series of The Great British Menu, in which the eight chefs who won the regional heats - including four chefs from Great British Chefs site - competed to represent their region in the Olympic Banquet at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich which aired Friday 8th June 2012.  Great British Chefs blogger  Monica Shaw  watched the banquet & gives her round up of the week leading up to it.


    Blog post by Monica Shaw

    The chefs in the running were:  Nathan Outlaw who won the South West roundAlan Murchison who won the Scottish round;  Daniel Clifford who won the Central round; Colin McCurran who won the North East round; Chris Fearon who won the Northern Ireland roundSimon Rogan who won the North West round; Phil Howard who won the London & South East round; and Stephen Terry who won the Wales round.

    Judging them were our diamond trio Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton, plus a bonus judge on each evening for each of the four courses. This year, the judging panel threw in a hitch: in each round, they eliminated a chef right off the bat if their original dish wasn’t up to snuff and if they hadn’t made any changes to the dish for the finals. This saw a lot of sad faces throughout the week, as some chefs’ dishes were immediately eliminated, forcing the chefs to take the day off and stand by the sidelines.


    Quails in the Woods by Colin McCurran - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Monday’s show featured the starters, in which Richard Corrigan joined the judging panel to settle on the top three dishes, which came down to: Alan’s duck and pineapple, Simon’s grilled vegetable salad and Colin’s ‘quail in the woods’. Colin’s original dish was one which the judge’s considered eliminating, but Colin was given a second chance for his tweaks to the dish. It was good fortune, too, because the judges chose his dish for the Olympic banquet starter, with Richard calling it “utter deliciousness in its eating”.

    Cornish mackerel with oysters, mussels, winkles & samphire by Phil Howard - from BBC’s Great British Menu 

    You would have thought two Michelin star chef and seafood extraordinaire Nathan Outlaw would have been a contender in the fish course, but you would be mistaken. In fact, the judges narrowed it down to Phil’s mackerel taster, Alan’s mackerel and beetroot and Simon’s lobster dish. Phil was “dead chuffed” to be announced the winner for his treatment of Cornish mackerel, served with oysters, mussels, winkles and samphire. According to Matthew Fort, Phil’s dish “elevated the humble mackerel to royal status - an astounding achievement.”

    Daniel Clifford’s slow poached chicken, sweetcorn egg and chicken spray from BBC’s Great British Menu 

    It was the main course where Nathan pulled through with his duck and monkfish dish, up against Daniel’s chicken and sweetcorn, Colin’s pork and apple and Simon’s suckling pig (yes there were four contenders for the main as there were simply so many incredible dishes that the judges couldn’t whittle down their choices to three). The winner went to the creator of “the dish that epitomised most the spirit of the competition,” said Oliver Peyton. And that was an almost tearful Daniel, whose slow-poached chicken, sweetcorn egg, spinach with bacon and peas was called a “virtuoso display of controlled cooking technique" by Matthew Fort.

     Poached pears, atsina cress snow, sweet cheese ice cream and rosehip syrup by Simon Rogan - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Dessert came down to Phil’s rhubarb custard, Simon’s poached pears and Stephen’s ‘bronze, silver and gold’. Simon, who’d been a contender for all of the courses and whom Matthew Fort called “Mr. Consistency” throughout, finally pulled through with his impeccable dish of poached pears, atsina cress snow, sweet cheese ice-cream and rosehip syrup. Guest judge Angela Harnett called for seconds and thirds of this dish, and Oliver Peyton “almost wanted to cry" it was so good.

    It was a dramatic, emotional finish to eight weeks of high competition and incredible cooking. In the end, the Great British Olympic Menu read as follows:

    • Colin McGurran’s ‘quail in the woods’
    • Phil Howard’s Cornish mackerel with oysters, mussels, winkles and samphire
    • Daniel Clifford’s slow-poached chicken, sweetcorn egg, spinach with bacon and peas
    • Simon Rogan’s poached pears, atsina cress snow, sweet cheese ice-cream and rosehip syrup

    Earlier in the series, Oliver Peyton said “I want the chefs to demonstrate to the world the greatness of Britain.” And reading over the final menu I can’t help but reflect on that. Indeed, the menu reflects each chef’s unique cooking style, but with ingredients that exemplify both Britain and the Olympic spirit of, dare I say, “boundary-pushing” innovation.

    Job well done to Colin, Phil, Daniel and Simon, and to all of the chefs who participated in Great British Menu, all of whom did a smashing job of rising to the Olympic Challenge.

    You can catch up on Great British Menu on BBC iPlayer and see the full line up of chefs and judges for the Great British Menu 2012 here.

  2. Great British Menu 2012 - Preview of Finals

    For the last eight weeks in the seventh series of The Great British Menu we’ve watched twenty four of Great Britain’s finest chefs battle it out. Now eight chefs including four chefs from Great British Chefs site are hoping they’ll be repesenting their region to serve at an Olympic banquet at the end of the week. This week (starting 4th June 2012) we will finally get to see who will go through to cook at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

    Daniel Clifford’s Raspberry and tarragon, cookie dough and tarragon oil from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Here’s a round up of the chefs in the final.  Nathan Outlaw who won the South West round. Joing Alan Murchison who won the Scottish round,  Daniel Clifford who won the Central round, Colin McCurran who won the North East round, Chris Fearon who won the Northern Ireland roundSimon Rogan who won the North West round, Phil Howard who won the London & South East round and Stephen Terry who won the Wales round.

    Hog’s pudding with seaweed, potato terrine & mushroom ketchup by Nathan Outlaw from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    In Monday’s show the finalists prepare their starters, to be tasted and scored by the Great British Menu judges and veteran judge Richard Corrigan.

    On Tuesday, the remaining finalists cook their fish dishes, which will be tasted and scored by the Great British Menu judges and veteran judge Marcus Wareing. 

    Lobster with pickled beetroot and sweet apple by Simon Rogan - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    On Wednesday, the chosen finalists will prepare their main courses, with veteran judge Tom Kerridge tasting and scoring alongside the other Great British Menu judges 

    Daniel Clifford’s slow poached chicken, sweetcorn egg and chicken spray from BBC’s Great British Menu

    On Thursday it’s the final chance to impress the judges with desserts. The Great British Menu judges will be joined by veteran judge Angela Hartnett.

    Alan Murchison's Going for Gold Dessert

    On Friday, the four winners will have been announced and the final show follows the successful chefs in the run-up to the banquet.  You’ll see their painstaking preparations for what is likely to be one of the most important meals they will ever cook.

    You can see the full line up of chefs and judges for the Great British Menu 2012 here.  Plus don’t forget our special Great British Menu Recipe CollectionThe definitive collection of recipes for Great British Menu fans, featuring old favourites like Nigel Haworth’s Lancashire hotpot, Lisa Allen’s rabbit turnover and Paul Ainsworth’s Taste of the Fairground, as well as newer classics from Great British Menu 2012 like Daniel Clifford’s stuffed red mullet dish and Alan Murchison’s veal sweetbreads 

    All this week Great British Menu will be on BBC2 at 7pm. We wish all competing chefs the best of luck in the run up to the banquet.

  3. Great British Menu 2012 - Central Heat Preview

    Last week The Great British Menu returned for its seventh series. This year the theme is an Olympic one.  Twenty four of the finest chefs in the country including many chefs from Great British Chefs site will compete in eight regional heats for the opportunity to create a four course menu at a prestigious event, hosted by sporting legend Sir Steve Redgrave with a guest list of British sporting greats.  This week (starting 16th April 2012) it’s the turn of the Central region.

    This week returning Great British Menu chefs contenders Aktar Islam and Great British Chefs’ Daniel Clifford, will be joined by contest newcomer Paul Foster. Will their starters be enough to impress veteran judge Glyn Purnell?  On the menu is pork neck with ribwort plantain and pork scratchings, veal tartare with caramelised sweetbread and burnt onions, and breast of squab with confit leg and chilli and sweetcorn shoots.  On Tuesday, the chefs will cook a fish course, on Wednesday main course and on Thursday it’s desserts.

    Cointreau Orange Chocolates by Daniel Clifford

    On Friday the two chefs with the most points for the week will cook their dishes again for restaurateur and businessman, Oliver Peyton, fellow restaurateur and cookery writer, Prue Leith and food journalist and author, Matthew Fort.  Matthew is Great British Chefs strategic advisor who also blogs for us and write the introductions for a number of our ingredient collections.  The winner will go into the finals (joining Alan Murchison who won the Scottish round).

    Cheese Scones by Daniel Clifford

    We hope you’ll be watching the show when it starts at 7.30pm each weekday night on BBC2.  At Great British Chefs we’ll be cheering on Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House - you can see more about his cooking style in our video below.  

    It’s Daniel’s third appearance on Great British Menu, previously he appeared in the 2009 and 2010 series.

    You can see the full line up of chefs and judges for the Great British Menu 2012 here. Also catch up on last week’s Scottish Final Great British Menu judging on our blog.

  4. Food Festivals this weekend 10th -11th September 2011

    September heralds the end of summer and the beginning of Autumn and there’s plenty of food festivals running across the England this weekend to help you celebrate the new season.

    Harvest at Jimmy’s comes to Jimmy’s Farm in Suffolk on September 9th-12th Jimmy Doherty the celebrity TV farmer is putting on a unique mix of music festival (including camping) with an impressive food festival running alongside.  At both festivals, you’ll be able to feast your ears as well as your belly.

    The line up of Celebrity Chefs includes household names such as James Martin and Mary Berry, our very own Michelin starred Nuno Mendes, Tom Kerridge, Paul a Young (who wowed everyone at our Great British Chefs Food Crawl), Alex James (remember the furore over his cheese for Asda), Yotam Ottelenghi (Issac made one of his gorgeous dishes for team lunch earlier this week) and many more.  

    The bands are equally impressive and include The Kooks, Eliza Doolittle, Turin Brakes, The Divine Comedy and The Feeling. It’s the “perfect marriage of good food and great music”.  You can start pitching up your tent from the afternoon of 9th September and tickets can be purchased here.  Clearly the foodie highlight of the weekend.

    Photo by David Griffen, dish by Alan Murchison

    Elsewhere, The Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival will be on September 9th-11th.  This was Britain’s first successful food and drink festival, which started back in 1995 and it is still going strong.   Michelin starred chefs - Daniel Clifford from our app & Alan Murchison, soon to be on our website will be running cookery demonstrations on Saturday

    This town is known for its good food and drink. As well as food producers, Ludlow will be hosting numerous food related events throughout the town, such as Sausage Trail and the Festival Loft trails.  The various food events will be taking place inside and outside of Ludlow Castle.

    The Royal Leamington Spa Food and Drink Festival will be from September 10th -11th , with various events such as taste trials, food demonstrations from chef Rustie Lee and James Mcintosh and even a celebration of Mexican Independence day with Discovery Foods and go on a taste.

    Newquay, known for its beautiful coastline, will be given the opportunity to showcase its harbour, with a two day fish festival on September 9th-11th. Enjoy practical demonstrations from chefs and try fresh local fish from the harbour.  

    In London, as part of the Thames Festival, on September 10th-11th, you can experience a two day Korean Food experience- Korea Calling. There will be Korean food tasting, chef demonstrations, Taekwondo, juggling and many more Korean inspired events.

    Brixton is hosting a mini event for the local community on September 10th. Make it Grow It Sell It, is a community market, promoting the talents of people who grow their own produce or make and design their own products.  You can meet the producers, taste their food and even buy some plants for your garden. The Brixton pound can also be used on the day!

    The Oyster, known as the foodie aphrodisiac- is having its very own festival of dedication on September 9th-11th in Woburn. At the Woburn Oyster Festival expect to learn oyster recipes and unique ways of using them in your dishes at home. The festival also boasts a giant flea market and a children’s funfair to keep the whole family entertained.

    The St Fagans Food Festival will take place in Wales on September 10th-11th. Taste Welshcakes, pork sausages made with meat from animals reared at the Museum and some of the finest Welsh food from local producers. There will also be various food from around the world I’m sure you will find something to enjoy. A small festival, but with lots of bite!

    Finally, renowned food blogger MsMarmiteLover will have a pop up Underground Restaurant at the Bestival Festival on the Isle of Wight (tickets to Bestival are now sold out, so this is only for people who already have tickets).  While you’re trying to  walk in your Rockstar costume you may want to change costume and head down to her restaurant. The menu caters for those with specific dietary needs as well. On September 10th, there will be a Midnight Feast, where you will be encouraged to wear pyjamas, nighties, slippers, dressing gowns and don’t forget your teddy and your water bottle. The menu is not yet known. Sounds exciting! So if you’re lucky enough to have Bestival tickets already, book your table here, tickets selling fast! 

    Let us know if you visit any of these festivals, we would love to see some pictures. Also we’re bound to have missed some special food festivals taking place in Great Britain this weekend (not weekly food markets, there are hundreds of those every week), so please let us know in the comments. Enjoy!

    Blog post by Monique from Great British Chefs