1. Great British Menu 2012: A Retrospective

    For the last eight weeks Monica Shaw has been covering Series Seven of Great British Menu, which culminated last on Friday 8th June 2012 in an epic four-course Olympic banquet featuring the winning chefs’ dishes.  At Great British Chefs we asked her to give us highlights of the series and also some of the things she wouldn’t miss!

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

    Blog post by Monica Shaw

    The lovely folks at Great British Chefs asked me to write a retrospective about my experience following the series and writing about it for this blog. I must say it feels like the end of an era. I’ve gotten used to my weekly Great British Menu ritual and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the programme.

    Simon Hulstone's dessert from BBC2's Great British Menu

    I’d never seen Great British Menu before and am not usually one to get hooked on a TV series (exceptions include The Wire, Firefly and Sex in the City). But Great British Menu surprised me.

    It wasn’t so much the drama of the competition, or the pithy comments from judges Prue Leith, Oliver Peyton and Matthew Fort. Rather, it was the chefs themselves and their collective talent, honesty and respect that really sold the show.

    Wishful Chicken by Paul Ainsworth from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Not to mention their array of personalities: Alan Murchison's sheer determination; Charlie Larkin's family values; Paul Ainsworth's youthful enthusiasm; Simon Rogan's humble genius; Phil Howard's uber self-confidence. It all came together for great television and a compelling array of characters.

    The most amazing aspect, of course, was the camaraderie amongst the chefs. This being television, there were lots of high drama moments: plates too hot, meat too cold, foam too runny and so on. And the best bits were seeing the chefs pull together to help each other out of these inevitable ruts.  It just makes you love these people even more and want to eat their food.

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

    To that end, Great British Menu has given me an excellent overview of the amazing food developments happening in Britain right now, and it’s a relief to find that “boundary pushing” innovation isn’t limited to the confines of London.  I’ve now got a bunch of new restaurants on my “hit list”, including Nathan Outlaw's restaurant at The St. Enodoc Hotel in Cornwall and Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cumbria. I was also glad to learn that Richard Davies’ restaurant at Manor House Hotel is just down the road from where I live.

    Duck, barbecue monkfish, rosemary, samphire and asparagus by Nathan Outlaw from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Of course, I’d love to try all of their restaurants, and meet all of the chefs. Fortunately, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, many of the chefs are on Twitter, and I often found myself looking them up after each programme aired. That many of them are on Twitter and actually talk their fans adds further testament to their awesomeness.

    Alan Murchison's Going for Gold Dessert

    In that way, Great British Menu may be gone but it’s certainly not forgotten, as it will be inspiring many restaurant visits and Twitter conversations for months and years to come. I think the only thing I won’t miss will be the litany of Olympic metaphors: “going for Gold”, “leaping culinary hurdles” and the most overused phrase of all, “pushing boundaries”.  But hey, it’s not often the Olympics are hosted in London, so we’ll let them have the glory, puns and all.

    Bring on Series Eight. 

    Blog post by Monica Shaw

    Let us know your highlights of Great British Menu 2012. Which chefs’ restaurants would you most like to visit as a result of watching the series?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Great British Menu 2012 - South West Heat Finals

    Friday 1st June 2012 saw the end of possibly one of the best weeks of Great British Menu. In the South West round all three competitors Simon HulstonePaul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw showed British cooking at its best.  However, only one chef could go through.  Great British Chefs blogger Monica Shaw was on hand to see who that would be. 

    Blog post by Monica Shaw

    Is it just me or was the South West week one of the best weeks of Great British Menu? The three competitors - Simon HulstonePaul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw - represented a phenomenal trio of chefs, all with strong personalities and incredible skill. But each chef is decidedly different and it was impossible to predict whose style would make its way to the judge’s chamber. And with all three chefs being part of the Great British Chefs website, we couldn’t help but cheer them all on.

    Simon Hulstone's dessert from BBC2's Great British Menu

    But come Thursday night, judge Tom Kerridge had spoken, and competitive newcomer Simon Hulstone (despite an amazing dessert) took a bow, leaving Paul and Nathan to battle it out under the careful judging of Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton.

    There was no confusing whose dish was whose, with Nathan standing out for his classic dishes made with local ingredients, whereas Paul used specially commissioned serving platters to create theatre and playful presentations.

     

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

    Nathan was first up with his starter of hog’s pudding with seaweed, potato terrine and mushroom ketchup: his take on a hearty Olympic breakfast. All of the judges were quick to criticise its appearance: “it’s a bit beige,” said Matthew. But the flavour combination was a “beautiful piece of thinking" according to Oliver. Prue agreed: "Composition is perfect…it just looks awful.”

     

    Breakfast of Champions by Paul Ainsworth from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Paul’s ‘Breakfast of Champions’ brought more breakfast fare, this time pork belly with hash browns and an innovative black pudding pan au chocolat. “The high point is the bacon…cured to perfection,” said Oliver. Prue praised the poached egg with potato crust: “this is just wonderful.” But Matthew was unconvinced by the serving of breakfast as an Olympic starter: “I want them not to have breakfast; I want them to have something they’ve never eaten before.”

     

    Mackerel and mackerel belly roll with oyster, horseradish & cucumber sauce by Nathan Outlaw from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Moving on to the fish course, Nathan - a two Michelin starred seafood chef - was feeling pretty confident with his mackerel and mackerel belly roll served with an oyster, horseradish and cucumber sauce, which scored a 9 during the heats. The judges weren’t convinced. Oliver called it “poncified fish" with "no personality”: “I’m looking for rock n’ roll”. Matthew Fort agreed that the “mackerel needs a more powerful hit to stand up to the sauce.”

    Monkfish, Two Showings by Paul Ainsworth from BBC2’s Great British Menu 

    Paul’s Monkfish ‘Two Showings’ seemed to fair better, with all of the judges enjoying his nose-to-tail monkfish served on an inventive two-tiered Colosseum-shaped platter. All of the judges enjoyed the top tier: “the curry deep fried monkfish is quite amazing,” said Oliver. But the second tier - monkfish liver on toast - ended things on a bitter note, with Prue visibly cringing at the taste: “too powerful for me.”

     

    Wishful Chicken by Paul Ainsworth from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    For the main course, it was Paul’s turn to feel confident - his ‘Wishful Chicken’ chicken kiev scored a perfect 10 during the heats. And here the judges mostly agreed, with Oliver calling it a “triumph”. But there was some debate over whether the elements worked together, with Matthew once again criticising its “beigeness”.

     

    Duck, barbecue monkfish, rosemary, samphire and asparagus by Nathan Outlaw from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    It was left to Nathan’s modern day surf n’ turf of duck, barbecue monkfish, rosemary, samphire and asparagus to steal the show. And steal it did. All of the chefs loved the barbecue sauce, but it was the whole combination that made this outstanding. “We’ve never had meat and fish together and I love the way the various elements are knitted,” said Matthew, “when they come together they make something even better and that’s where the true genius lies." Prue agreed: this was "gold medal winning stuff.”

     

    Elderflower and lemon tart, strawberry sorbet and meringues by Nathan Outlaw from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    If Nathan’s main was a win, his pudding was surely a letdown, with all of the judges lambasting his elderflower and lemon tart, strawberry sorbet and meringues. “It’s not a good sorbet,” said Oliver. “The base is very undercooked,” said Prue of the tart: “this is clearly a chef who’s a great chef, but doesn’t think pudding is important - it’s not up to scratch.”

     

    "Then & Now" by Paul Ainsworth from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Following that, the judges must have been thoroughly pleased to end on Paul’s ‘Then & Now’, a pudding of pistachio and olive oil sponge with chocolate disk and gold caramel sauce. “This chocolate disc is completely orgasmic,” said Matthew. “If I just won a gold medal and had a choice between the medal and this chocolate pudding, I’d choose the pudding - it’s Nirvana,” said Oliver.

    And so, it was judgment time. Earlier in the episode, Oliver Peyton said, “I want the chefs to demonstrate to the world the greatness of Britain.” And so despite Paul’s “dazzling” menu, it was Nathan who won on “pure gastronomy”, an apt reminder that Great British Menu is about showcasing British food, which Nathan certainly does with his use of local Southwest ingredients cooked simply but to perfection.

     

    Well done Nathan Outlaw for winning the South West heat! And well done Paul Ainsworth and Simon Hulstone who put up some pretty heavy competition. It was a fantastic week.

    If you’re in the UK you can watch this episode on BBC’s iPlayer for the next few days.

    The heats are over, and next week, it’s the finals!  Nathan Outlaw will join 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. You can see the full line up of chefs and judges for the Great British Menu 2012 here.

    Blog post & photography by Monica Shaw

    What did you think of the results of the Southwest finals?  

  5. Great British Menu 2012 - South West Heat Preview

    Week Eight of the seventh series of The Great British Menu and the last of the regional heats ends with the South West. Over these eight weeks, twenty four of Great Britain’s finest chefs including many chefs from Great British Chefs site are competing in regional heats for the opportunity to create a four course menu at an Olympic banquet, hosted by sporting legend Sir Steve Redgrave with a guest list of British sporting greats.  This week (starting 28th May 2012) chefs from the South West will be competing to create the final banquet.

    At Great British Chefs we’ll be cheering on all three competitors Simon Hulstone, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw - who can all be found on our site.  Tom Kerridge  pictured above will be judging their efforts this week. 

    Paul Ainsworth is a frequent competitor on Great British Menu, wowing the judges with his Taste of the Fairground dessert in the final banquet in 2011.  His Toffee Apple and Marshmallow Kebabs were part of his fairground themed menu

    Toffee Apple and Marshmallow Kebabs by Paul Ainsworth

    Southampton-born Paul got his break courtesy of Gary Rhodes. After spending three years at Rhodes in the Square, Ainsworth moved to Gordon Ramsay’s organisation, working first at his flagship Royal Hospital Road restaurant and then with Marcus Wareing at Petrus.

    In 2006, the opportunity to open a restaurant with two friends brought Ainsworth to the West Country. Here they opened Number 6, set in a Georgian town house in the Cornish fishing village of Padstow.

    After three years emulating his culinary mentors, Ainsworth put his name above the door and re-thought his approach. Now Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 restaurant serves simpler, more affordable food – appealing to both tourists and locals, and achieving two AA rosettes.

    Boiled Egg and Soldiers by Nathan Outlaw

    Nathan Outlaw began his career at his father’s restaurant in Kent, perfecting his culinary technique at Thanet College. Following a decade of work with the likes of Peter Kromburg, Rick Stein, Paul Ripley and John Campbell, Outlaw opened Restaurant Nathan Outlaw at the St Enodoc in 2007 and the Nathan Outlaw Seafood and Grill in 2009.

    Since then, he’s garnered two stars from the critics at Michelin, and his eponymous eatery has been named Best Fish Restaurant and one of the UK’s top 10 restaurants by the Good Food Guide. Nathan has appeared on the Good Food Channel’s Market Kitchen, as well as the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and Great British Menu. 

    Tea and Cake by Nathan Outlaw

    His food can be very playful as witnessed by his tea and cake recipe and his Boiled Egg and Soldier recipe which both featured in Great British Menu in 2009. 

    Finally and with is first time to the show will be be Simon Hulstone. The son of a chef, Simon was a Roux Scholar, Knorr National Chef of the Year and World Junior Chef by the time he was 30. After working in kitchens like Cotswold House, Cheltenham’s Bacchanalian and the Bailiffscourt Hotel, he moved to Devon to head up the Elephant, having already attracted the Michelin panel’s attention.

    Mackerel pate and cucumber pickle by Simon Hulstone

    Simon was selected to redesign the menu for BA First Class in 2012 and was the star of its pop up venue in East London.  Like Nathan he has also contributed recipes to both of the Great British Chefs apps.

    On Monday’s episode,  Paul, Simon & Nathan will be presenting their starters.  On Tuesday, they move onto a fish course, on Wednesday main course and on Thursday it’s the turn of desserts.  For each of those days they will have to impress veteran judge Tom Kerridge before going through to Friday’s final.

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

    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 Wales Heat Final Great British Menu judging on our blog.  This week Great British Menu will be on BBC2 at its regular time of 7.30pm.

  6. Great British Menu 2012 - Wales Heat Finals

    Week 7 of Great British Menu had its final judging on Friday 25th May 2012.  During the week chefs from Wales competed to impress veteran judge Angela HartnettMonica Shaw guest blogger at Great British Chefs watched the finals. Which Welsh chef would be cooking at the Olympic banquet?

    Blog post by Monica Shaw

    If ever there was a close match in Great British Menu it was the Wales heat. Thursday night saw Richard Davies lose out by just half a point, leaving James Sommerin and Stephen Terry to compete in the finals. Although their scores were close during the heats, the two chefs’ cooking styles couldn’t be any more different. Whilst James takes a modern, molecular approach, Stephen sticks to more traditional techniques, admitting, “I focus on my strengths - my strengths are not doing rocket science.

    As usual, it was up to judges Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton to decide whose approach most reflected the talent and ambition of Olympic athletes. As in the heats, it was another close race.

     

    The Opening Ceremony by Stephen Terry from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Stephen’s approach was to create simple but beautifully prepared dishes presented in such a way as to reflect Olympic virtues, and with names to match. Such was the case with his starter, ‘The Opening Ceremony’, a warm pigeon salad with wild boar lardons, risotto cubes and caramelised hazelnuts. All of the judges agreed that the dish was good, but with reservations. “The quality of the pigeon is great, I love the dandelion,” said Oliver, “it’s a beautiful piece of cooking but not Olympic.” Matthew Fort mockingly added, “Oh crikey, I’ve just remembered the brief - let’s add caramelised hazelnuts!

     

    Sage cream, onion, chicken & Welsh ‘Brie’ truffle toast by  James Sommerin from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    James’ starter of sage cream, onion, chicken & Welsh ‘Brie’ truffle toast faired slightly better. Although Prue thought the dish didn’t “look very appetising”, they all agreed that James had made an effort, but it needed work. “I feel like whipping myself for not liking this dish more,” said Oliver, “this chef is making a go at being successful.”

     

    Fish & Shellfish Medley by Stephen Terry from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Stephen’s fish dish, ‘The Fish and Shellfish Medley’, featured nine different types of fish and shellfish served in a series of five “rings” (you can guess what those represent). “Wowzer,” said Matthew Fort. There was a lot going on here, but all of the judges seemed to like it, but with reservations. As Oliver put it: “It’s not a world class gold winner.”

     

    Lobster with Iberico ham, spiced butter and broccoli by James Sommerin from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    James’ fish course - lobster with Iberico ham, spiced butter and broccoli - made an interesting first impression. “I’ve always wanted to eat food from a plate shaped like a bed pan,” said Matthew. This dish caused much disagreement, with mixed opinions on the use of aubergine and broccoli, and Matthew being most unimpressed of all: “the day that mud wrestling becomes an Olympic sport, this dish can go through”.

     

    Mangalitza pork, carrot, liquorice and leeks by James Sommerin from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Going into the main course, both chefs had a lot to prove. James was first with his Mangalitza pork, carrot, liquorice and leeks. The pork had the judges in “mmms” and “aahs” (though Oliver argued that there was too much fat on the dish). Delicious, but was it innovative? “Sadly not innovative enough,” said Prue, “but I’d be happy to eat it at the banquet.”

     

    Bunny Pentathlon by Stephen Terry from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Would Stephen’s ‘Bunny Pentathlon’, consisting of five different preparations of rabbit, do any better? “Already I’m happier,” said Oliver when the dish was served: “I love the journey of flavours throughout the palette”. However Matthew argued that the dish was too much: “together it’s a massive munching mouthful.”

     

    Deconstructed raspberry and lemon cheesecake by James Sommerin from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    For dessert, James’ deconstructed raspberry and lemon cheesecake pleased the judges with its dry ice theatrics, and the flavour of the dish itself. “It’s been creatively thought through,” said Matthew, “I can see a whole lot of Olympians polishing that off and leaving dinner looking pretty damn chirpy.”

     

    Bronze, Silver or Gold? by Stephen Terry from BBC2’s Great British Menu

    Stephen’s ‘Bronze, Silver or Gold?’ - a trio of lemon meringue, chocolate mousse and trifle - ended things off on a high note for the judges, except Matthew who felt that the dish didn’t fit the brief because the individual components were too basic. But this didn’t bother Oliver and Prue, who called it “unpompous and simply delicious.”

     

    Ultimately, it was Stephen’s “simply delicious” cooking that led to his being chosen winner of the Wales finals, leaving a very disappointed James to pack up and go home. Congratulations, Stephen, who proved that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to win at Great British Menu - even simple dishes can pack an Olympic punch. If you’re in the UK you can watch this episode on BBC’s iPlayer for the next few days.

    Well done Stephen who qo into the finals (joining 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 and Phil Howard who won the London & South East round).

    Next week is the last heat before the finals, with South West chefs Paul Ainsworth, Nathan Outlaw and Simon Hulstone competing who are all on Great British Chefs website. 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 Wales finals?  

  7. Great British Menu 2012 - Wales Heat Preview

    Week Seven of the seventh series of The Great British Menu and it’s the turn of Wales. Over eight weeks, twenty four of Great Britain’s finest chefs including many chefs from Great British Chefs site are competing in regional heats for the opportunity to create a four course menu at an Olympic banquet, hosted by sporting legend Sir Steve Redgrave with a guest list of British sporting greats.  This week (starting 21st May 2012) Welsh chefs will be competing to create the final banquet.


    James Sommerin, Angela Hartnett,  Stephen Terry and Richard Davies - BBC2 Great British Menu Welsh Contestants

    On Monday’s episode,  James who is part of Great British Chefs original recipe app will be preparing sage cream, onion, chicken and Welsh ‘Brie’ truffle toast. Richard is making a ravioli of quail, parfait of foie gras, roasted salsify and Madeira jelly and Stephen presenting “The Opening Ceremony”.

    On Tuesday, they move onto a fish course, on Wednesday main course and on Thursday it’s the turn of desserts.  For each of those days they will have to impress veteran judge Angela Hartnett before going through to Friday’s final.

    James Sommerin has impressed reviewers, guests and the judges of Great British Menu before in 2009. The Crown at Whitebrook has had a Michelin star to its name for five years running, the Good Food Guide lists it among its top UK restaurants, and the Observer named James a Chef to Watch in 2008. Keeping a safe distance from the well-trodden clichés of Welsh cuisine is imperative for Sommerin, who has said of his menus, ‘I wanted to focus on the more unusual products, to show there’s more to Wales’.


    Mackerel, white chocolate, horseradish and beetroot by James Sommerin

    His dishes tend to marry three or four distinct flavours in imaginative combinations. Visitors to his restaurants can take advantage of a tasting menu drawing UK ingredients, global influences and techniques from forward-thinking culinary innovators.

    Bubblegum panna cotta by James Sommerin

    His menus on Great British Chefs app include a seared cod with asparagus, crab beignets and samphire and the most playful of a bubblegum panna cotta.

    On Friday the two chefs who receive the most points from Angela for the week will cook their dishes again for restaurateur and cookery writer, Prue Leith, fellow restaurateur and businessman, Oliver Peyton, and food journalist and author, Matthew Fort.  Matthew is Great British Chefs strategic advisor who also blogs for us and writes the introductions for a number of our ingredient collections.  The winner will go into the finals (joining 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 and Phil Howard who won the London & South East round).

    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 North East Heat Final Great British Menu judging on our blog.  This week Great British Menu will be on BBC2 at its regular time of 7.30pm.

  8. Great British Menu 2012 - London & South East Heat Finals

    Week 6 of Great British Menu had its final judging on Friday 18th May 2012.  During the week chefs from London & the South East competed to impress veteran judge Jason AthertonMonica Shaw guest blogger at Great British Chefs watched the finals. Who would be cooking at the Olympic banquet?

    Blog post by Monica Shaw

    The London and South East finals of Great British Menu brought with it an exciting clash of the generations. Having said goodbye to Graham Garrett on Thursday evening, this left the very confident - and very classical - chef Phil Howard to face off with young chef Marcus McGuinness who was out to wow the judges with his ultra modern approach.

    But would judges Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton appreciate Marcus’s newfangled techniques, or would they be more comfortable with Phil’s classical precision?

    Ice lamb’s liver parfait, malt loaf, fingerling limes and rose germanium by Marcus McGuinness  - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Marcus’ menu began with a starter of ice lamb’s liver parfait, malt loaf, fingerling limes and rose germanium, a beautiful dish, but one which the judges felt offered “style over content”, according to a visibly annoyed Oliver: “there’s a lack of love.” And Prue only seemed to keep eating it because it was interesting, though not necessarily tasty: “I’m not really enjoying it, I’m just interested in eating it because it’s so extraordinary.

     

    Spring salad with goats’ milk purée, pickled asparagus and quails’ eggs by Phil Howard - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Phil’s starter - a spring salad with goat’s milk puree, pickled asparagus and quail’s eggs - went the judges sans watercress bavarois (Phil forgot to add it at the last minute). Would that have changed the judges’ opinions? All agreed it was enjoyable, but “nothing special” according to Oliver, who added that the gimmicky gold leaf around the celeriac was “absolutely awful - like bling on the salad”. “I’m enjoying it but it isn’t rocking my world,” said Prue.

     

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

    It was during the fish course that Phil proved his precise execution of classical techniques could elevate ordinary British ingredients. Enter his tasting of Cornish mackerel with oysters, mussels, winkles & samphire. “A beautiful balance between richness and intensity,” said Mathew. “The soup is a triumph, the tartar is absolutely fabulous…the dish of the day so far,” said Oliver.

     

    Pollock, peas, coconut and elderflower. by Marcus McGuinness - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Marcus fared much better with his fish course: pollock, peas, coconut and elderflower. “This is just a beautiful thing,” said Oliver. In fact, all agreed that the presentation was awe-inspiring, but not everyone enjoyed the flavour. “This is like someone running out for the pole vault and spectacularly soaring below the bar," said Matthew: "potentially delicious but completely ruined by inattention to detail.”

     

    Roast loin of lamb with pie and mash, carrots, nettles and mint by Phil Howard - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    The main course did not going as swimmingly for Phil, whose roast loin of lamb with pie and mash, carrots, nettles and mint was “almost perfection" according to Oliver. The problem, according to Matthew, was that it was boring: "conventional stuff given a bit of a makeover with a few blobs on the plate - that is not enough.”

     

    Blade of beef cooked in hay, tendons and beetroot by  Marcus McGuinness  - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Marcus’s main - blade of beef cooked in hay, tendons and beetroot - didn’t do much better. In fact, all of the chefs seemed genuinely disgusted, with Prue practically gagging on the tendons. “This dish is a tragedy,” said Oliver. Matthew was the only judge to defend the dish, arguing that the tendons worked, but still agreed with Prue who said, “I would be ashamed if we put this down for an Olympian feast.”

     

    Rhubarb and custard soufflé by Phil Howard - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    This left the last stand: dessert. Phil’s rhubarb and custard soufflé served with ice cream in Olympic torch cones was “a dish of wonderful quiet pleasures,” said Matthew, “but not a dish of fireworks.” Oliver agreed: “no innovation whatsoever.”

     

    Asparagus, goat’s curd and black olives by Marcus McGuinness - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Marcus finished his menu with his radical pudding: asparagus, goat’s curd and black olives, not likely ingredients for a pudding, so inherently “boundary-pushing”. But did it work? Almost. “The bits are there, they just need to be pulled together," said Matthew. "When you put everything together it’s delicious,” said Prue. But all agreed it would be better off as an “asparagus cheesecake” rather than a series of individual components on a plate.

    No one could argue that Marcus pushed himself to the limit with his menu. But Phil, though not always innovative, did always exhibit a mastery of flavour and technique, and this is what counts in the eyes of the judges who were all smiles as they announced Phil the winner. Congratulations. Phil Howard! You’ve demonstrated the importance of substance over style, something all too easily forgotten on Great British Menu.

     

    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 Welsh chefs with contenders James Sommerin, Stephen Terry and Richard Davies. 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 London & South East finals?  

  9. Great British Menu 2012 - South East & London Heat Preview

    Week Six of the seventh series of The Great British Menu and it’s the turn of London & the South East. Over eight weeks, twenty four of the finest chefs in Great Britain including many chefs from Great British Chefs site are competing in regional heats for the opportunity to create a four course menu at an Olympic banquet, hosted by sporting legend Sir Steve Redgrave with a guest list of British sporting greats.  This week (starting 14th May 2012) it’s the turn of the South East & London.


    Marcus McGuinness, Jason Atherton, Phil Howard & Graham Garrett  - BBC2 Great British Menu South East & London Contestants

    Graham who recently joined Great British Chefs site will be preparing pickled rabbit, wild garlic quinoa and frozen rabbit liver parfait.  Phil is making spring salad with goat’s milk puree, pickled asparagus and quail’s eggs and Marcus presenting iced lamb’s liver parfait, malt loaf, fingerling limes and rose geranium.

    On Tuesday, they move onto a fish course, on Wednesday main course and on Thursday it’s the turn of desserts.  For each of those days they will have to impress veteran judge Jason Atherton before going through to Friday’s final.

    If you were an avid concertgoer in the 80s, you might have a nagging feeling of having seen Graham Garrett’s face before. In fact, he played the drums for bands like the Ya-Ya’s and Dumb Blondes.

    When he was 31, Garrett hung up his sticks and took up the chef’s knife.  

    After he hung a shingle in front of his own Biddenden restaurant The West House (in 2002), it took Garrett just two years to win a Michelin star, which he’s maintained since. He can now lay claim to a star from Egon Ronay, the highest possible rating from Harden’s for its food, and was a finalist for the title of Harpers and Queen’s Best Restaurant Outside London.


    The West House -  Graham Garrett's restaurant

    Garrett’s taste for savoury umami flavours means plenty of fish, rustic pork cuts and substantial game and fowl dishes. He also puts as much care into his desserts as the rest of his meals, and they often include unexpected touches - such as an almond cake soaked in Sauternes and peaches and cream made with vanilla Mascarpone.

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

    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 North East Heat Final Great British Menu judging on our blog.  This week Great British Menu will be on BBC2 at it’s regular time of 7.30pm.

  10. Great British Menu 2012 - North West Heat Finals

    Week 5 of Great British Menu had its final judging on Friday 11th May 2012.  During a week of high drama chefs from the North West competed to impress veteran judge Marcus WareingMonica Shaw guest blogger at Great British Chefs watched the finals. After Johnnie Mountain left the show on Tuesday in response to a low score, we already knew that Simon Rogan & Aiden Byrne were in the finals. Would this make Friday’s show boring viewing?

    Blog post by Monica Shaw

    If you’ve been keeping up with Great British Menu, then you know this has been a week of high drama for the North West region, with contenders Johnnie Mountain, Simon Rogan and Aiden Byrne competing for Marcus Wareing's approval. Or should we say, Simon and Aiden? Because after last Tuesday, they were the only two left when Johnnie stormed off the show in response to Marcus's dismal two point score on his fish course.

    Recreation of the Sea by Johnnie Mountain - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Whether you agree with Marcus’s judging and Johnnie’s decision is beside the point (you can add your comments to our preview post). However, the fact is, the show must go on, and go on it did.

    Johnnie’s departure guaranteed Simon’s and Aiden’s place in Friday’s judging round, which may sound like boring television, but in fact it was quite the opposite: Johnnie’s departure allowed us to witness two of Britain’s most talented chefs cook side by side amidst, not so much competition, but rather mutual respect for each other’s skills (I’m pretty sure I heard both contestants regard the other as a “genius”).

    Simon and Aiden seemed to care as much about each other’s opinions as they did that of the judges. It was a great thing to watch, and made the judging round even more interesting, because both chefs were consistently high performers from start to finish, producing knock-out dishes that seemed only to get better with each course.

     

    Black Cherry & Foie Gras Terrine by Aiden Bryne - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    It started with Aiden’s black cherry and foie gras terrine with palm sugar mousse, “a very confident piece of cooking" according to Matthew Fort. The main problem the judges had was its sweetness. "I love it,” said Prue, “but I could easily have it for dessert.”

     

    Grilled salad, truffle custard, cheese foam and cobnut crisp by Simon Rogan - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Simon’s starter was most definitely not a pudding: grilled salad, truffle custard cheese foam and cobnut crisp. Yes, vegetables. “Burnt vegetables,” said Matthew Fort, but in the best way possible. “The more it unfolds the more you realise it’s a very sophisticated dish”, said Oliver. “The contrast between acrid burnt flavour and moussey texture is extraordinary,” said Matthew.

     

    Beetroot poached salmon, razor clam & fennel salad by Aiden Bryne - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Aiden’s fish course - beetroot poached salmon, caviar, razor clam, citrus and fennel salad - didn’t quite hold up to the starters, with rave reviews for presentation but mixed reviews on taste. “A complete waste of a razor clam,” said Oliver, whom Matthew Fort then accused of having a “taste bud bypass”: “this is a very assured piece of cooking”.

     

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

    Simon’s lobster with pickled beetroot, sweet apple and cuckoo flower prompted less disagreement. Everyone agreed that the combination of lobster and apple was both new and delicious. They also agreed that the green cuckoo flower puree had to go. “The green stuff is seriously disgusting,” said Prue.

     

    Suckling pig with northern mead, vegetables and artichoke by Simon Rogan - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    On to the mains, Simon’s suckling pig with northern mead, vintage vegetables and artichoke made all of the judges swoon, particularly around what Matthew called the “perfume of pork”. The “vintage vegetables”, so called because they were stored using an old-fashioned preserving technique that involved burying them in sand - caused some contention. Matthew asked whether “techniques of the past belong on the menu of the future”. Said Oliver: “I would love to see this piggy trotting onto the Olympic menu - it’s an Olympian piece of piggy.”

     

    Veal Fillet with Ham & Spring Peas by Aiden Bryne - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Aiden’s veal fillet with ham and spring peas also pleased the judges who were impressed with his molecular spherification technique which used gelification to form spherical globs of pea-like morsels to the plate. Add to that little cubes of fat and you have a “revelation”, according to Matthew.

     

    Orange & Olive Oil Cake with candied celery by Aiden Bryne - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    This left the puddings. Aiden’s orange and olive oil cake with candied celery exuded an “air of Zen-like tranquility”, said Matthew. All of the judges were smitten with this dish, which Prue called “a little bit of genius”.

     

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

    Simon, too, impressed the judges with his poached pears, anise hyssop snow, sweet cheese ice cream and rosehip syrup. All of the judges commented on how “clean” the dish tasted and that they’d never had anything like it. “I don’t know what I’m eating - it’s wonderful,” said Prue.

     

    When it came to deciding who should go on to the final, you got a sense that none of the judges wanted to make the call - “The brief was written for your style of cooking" said Matthew. But in this "battle royale", there could be only one winner. And you really had to feel for Aiden when they announced Simon as the winner. This was Aiden’s third time on Great British Menu, and once again he was going home. 

    Well done Simon Rogan for winning the North West heat - this was not an easy round and you’ve proved that newcomers are forces to be reckoned with. 

    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 South-East and London chefs with contenders Graham Garrett (who recently joined Great British Chefs website), Marcus McGuinness and Phil Howard. 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 North West finals?  

  11. Great British Menu 2012 - North West Heat Preview

    Week Five of the seventh series of The Great British Menu and it’s the turn of the North West region. Over eight weeks, twenty four of the finest chefs in Great Britain including many chefs from Great British Chefs site are competing in regional heats for the opportunity to create a four course menu at an Olympic banquet, hosted by sporting legend Sir Steve Redgrave with a guest list of British sporting greats.  This week (starting 7th May 2012) it’s the turn of chefs from the North West .

    Johnnie Mountain, Marcus WareingSimon Rogan and Aiden Byrne - BBC2 Great British Menu North West Contestants

    On Monday they’ll be presenting their starters. Simon Rogan’s starter is a grilled salad served with an English truffle custard, cobnut crisp and cheese foam. Johnny Mountain will be cooking  Iberico ham, cherry ravioli and a foie gras ice cream.  Aiden Byrne is making a terrine of fois gras with a palm sugar mousse with black cherries and ginger bread.

    On Tuesday, they move onto a fish course, on Wednesday main course and on Thursday it’s the turn of desserts.  For each of those days they will have to impress veteran judge Marcus Wareing  before going through to Friday’s final.

    Marcus has worked alongside many famous names in British gastronomy, starting with an apprenticeship under Anton Edelmann at The Savoy Hotel. He honed his skills at Le Gavroche and with Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire before achieving success with Gordon Ramsay Holdings, winning Michelin stars at L’Oranger, Pétrus and The Savoy Grill.

    Most days you’ll find Marcus Wareing in the kitchen at The Berkeley, yet he has found time to write three cook books, make barnstorming appearances on the BBC’s Great British Menu and open a ‘British brasserie’, The Gilbert Scott at London’s St Pancras station.

    On this iTunes podcast, Marcus Wareing talks to Matthew Fort about his career and his journey towards running two very successful kitchens.

    Smoked Baby Beetroot, Marscapone & Tarragon Salad by Marcus Wareing 

    Marcus has also contributed recipes for both the first and second of the Great British Chefs apps. His menus from the The Gilbert Scott include delights like Smoked Baby Beetroot, Marscapone & Tarragon Salad and Turkish delight cheese cake and more challenging dishes from his eponymous restaurant.

    Turkish Delight Cheesecake by Marcus Wareing  

    On Friday the two chefs who received the most points from Marcus for the week will cook their dishes again for restaurateur and cookery writer, Prue Leith, fellow restaurateur and businessman, Oliver Peyton, and food journalist and author, Matthew Fort.  Matthew is Great British Chefs strategic advisor who also blogs for us and writes the introductions for a number of our ingredient collections.  The winner will go into the finals (joining Alan Murchison who won the Scottish round,  Daniel Clifford who won the Central round and Colin McCurran who won the North East round and Chris Fearon who won the Northern Ireland round).

    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 Northern Ireland Heat Final Great British Menu judging on our blog.

    Great British Menu is on different times on BBC2 this week Monday at 7pm, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday at 7.30pm and Friday’s final at 7pm.

  12. Great British Menu 2012 - Northern Ireland Heat Finals

    Week 4 of Great British Menu had final judging on Friday 4th May 2012.  During the week we saw chefs from Northern Ireland competing to impress veteran judge Richard Corrigan (who recently joined Great British Chefs site)Monica Shaw guest blogger at Great British Chefs watched the finals. All contestants had been on Great British Menu before, but who would take the Northern Ireland title? 

    Clay Pigeon Shoot by Chris Fearon - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Blog post by Monica Shaw

    This week was the turn of the Northern Ireland region of Great British Menu, in which contenders Chris Bell, Chris Fearon and Niall McKenna faced off under the discriminating eye of judge Richard Corrigan. Throughout the week, Chris Bell was in his element, leaving the real drama between Chris Fearon and Niall, neither of whom seemed to be hitting the right marks with Richard. But someone had to go, and on Thursday we said goodbye to Niall, leaving the two Chrisses to prepare their four-course menus for judging panel Oliver Peyton, Prue Leith and Matthew Fort.

    Chris Fearon had a lot to prove in the finals, as during the heats he seemed perpetually struck by nerves. For all of his clever presentations, he made silly mistakes that compromised the food. But tonight he was on his game.

     

    Clay Pigeon Shoot by Chris Fearon - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    To start, his “Clay Pigeon Shoot” not only made the judges laugh, it also made them mmm and aah between mouthfuls of pigeon and pastilla, which had a “lovely squidgy meaty centre” according to Matthew. And when Prue questioned its remarkableness, both Matthew and Oliver agreed she was being a “killjoy”. “This is perfect for the Olympic banquet,” said Oliver, “Happiness.”

     

    Rabbit, black pudding and rhubarb salad with ‘tea and dumplings’ by Chris Bell - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Chris Bell also struck a win with his starter. His rabbit, black pudding and rhubarb salad with ‘tea and dumplings’ left the judges aghast with delight.

    Often dishes this complicated don’t go well together,” said Oliver, “but this is really really nice.”

     

    Skate Rings by Chris Fearon - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Going into the fish course, Chris Fearon continued his Olympic-themed displays with “Skate Rings”. But unlike his starter, this dish did not live up to the presentation. “This is visually a stunner,” said Oliver, “but the delivery is a colossal problem.”

     

    Red wine poached turbot by Chris Bell - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Chris Bell didn’t do much better with his red wine poached turbot and bourguignon of snails. “It’s horrible …tastes disgusting,” said Prue. “This pushes the boundaries of decency rather than gastronomy,” said Matthew.

     

    Corn-fed Lissara duck and Bakewell garnish by Chris Bell - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Chris Bell’s main course of corn-fed Lissara duck, Bakewell garnish, cocoa and basil didn’t help his case. All of the judges agreed it was too sweet, and his bakewell tart left much to be desired. “He’s obviously not a pastry chef,” said Prue.

     

    Spring Jump Lamb by Chris Fearon - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    In contrast, Chris Fearon’s “spring jump lamb” was called “Plastic fantastic” by Oliver, and that’s a good thing: “That lamb is absolutely delicious – I am in the field with that lamb.” However, no one cared much for his experimental molecular basil foam. Said Prue: “The green stuff… it’s slightly horrible… disgusting.”

     

    Summer salad of apricots, jasmine and pistachio by Chris Bell - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    In the critical final stage – dessert – Chris Bell wooed Prue and Matthew with his summer salad of apricots, jasmine and pistachio. “Very pretty,” said Prue, “I’d like an outfit in those colours.” Only Oliver wasn’t convinced: “How you can see that at an Olympic banquet is beyond me … he’s thrown the kitchen sink at it.” (Following this, Prue and Matthew stole Oliver’s plate to finish it themselves.)

     

    Olympic Torch by Chris Fearon - from BBC’s Great British Menu

    Chris Fearon unleashed yet another gimmicky dish for his pudding: an “Olympic torch” with Greek yogurt ice cream and white chocolate shards. But this gimmick actually worked. All of the chefs agreed it wasn’t perfect, but they clearly saw the potential. “This could be fabulous,” said Oliver.” “More punch from the liquorice would be the wild card element,” said Matthew.

     

    After a disastrous week in the heats for Chris Fearon and an inconsistent performance for Chris Bell during the judging round, there was no obvious winner – and not in the judges’ eyes, either, as two chose “Menu B” and one “Menu A”. But it’s majority rules in Great British Menu, and ultimately “Menu B” belonged to Chris Fearon, who after his tumultuous week must be feeling, well, as he said: “Gobsmacked”.

    Well done, Chris Fearon, for winning the Northern Ireland heat! 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 North West chefs with contenders Simon Rogan, Johnnie Mountain and Aiden Byrne.  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 Northern Ireland finals? Which dish was your favourite?