1. Win Tickets to Taste of London 2012

    Great British Chefs and Taste of London have teamed up to offer you the chance to win pairs of tickets (worth £48) to this summer’s foodie event! Several chefs from Great British Chefs website will be serving special menus at the festival from 21st - 24th June Find out how to win one of 13 pairs of tickets ….


    Strawberry Tart by Pascal Aussignac

    For four days fine dining will be transported to Regent’s Park for great summer eating, drinking and entertainment. 40 of London’s best restaurants will be serving up their finest in an unbeatable alfresco gourmet feast, while 200 producers are presenting of their best food and beverages.  You’ll be able to sample and shop for a range of great produce in a lovely atmosphere.  There’s also a whole host of masterclasses & demos from the country’s finest chefs.

    The following chefs from Great British Chefs will have special menus of starter sized dishes for the occasion.  Treat yourself to their signature dishes reflecting their cooking philosophy and showcasing seasonal ingredients.  


    Salad Niscoise by Pascal Aussignac 

    Pascal Aussignac's Club Gascon will present top produce cooked in the manner of southwest France. Pascal’s grasp of seasonal produce and his capacity to bring ingredients together is showcased in every dish. 

    Bharwan Paneer by Alfred Prasad

    Alfred Prasad specialises in the cooking of north-western and southern India. His award winning Tamarind restaurant offers a modern interpretation of Mughal cuisine - the courtly food of ancient Rajasthan that revolves around the tandoor oven, in which marinated breads, meat, game and seafood are grilled over charcoal.

    Crab Salad by Theo Randall

    Having worked his way up the ranks at the iconic River Café, Theo Randall knows a thing or two about running a restaurant. At The Intercontinental, Theo cooks what he loves: Italian inspired, seasonal, rustic food that’s uncomplicated but packed with love.

    Hake Fillet with Golden Beet & radish salad - Simon Rogan

    Last but not least on Friday Simon Rogan will be the guest chef at Action Against Hunger's Restaurant at Taste of London. Simon moved to the picturesque village of Cartmel, Cumbria, in 2002 to set up L’Enclume, the restaurant with rooms which has since garnered a host of accolades.  His London “pop up” restaurant Roganic has also received rave reviews. His dessert reached the finals of Great British Menu & was served at the Olympic Banquet. 

    We have three pairs of entry tickets for Taste of London for Saturday evening 23rd June 2012 and 10 runner up pairs for either Thursday 21st or Friday 22nd June.

    For your chance to win, simply tell us which of the cuisines represented by the chefs featured above is your favourite - French, Indian, Italian or English & let us know one of your favourite dishes from that country - for example,  Italian, Spaghetti Carbonara.   Enter in the comments hereno later than 11.59pm on Sunday 17th June 2012.  Entry into the competition is for UK residents only & does not include transport to the event or Crowns to spend at the festival.

    Our Taste of London recipe collection has more dishes from the chefs at the event.

    We will randomly select the prize winners from the comments made by the entry deadline.  The lucky winners be selected & informed on Monday 18th June 2012 & your tickets will be sent by registered post on Tuesday 19th June 2012.

    We look forward to seeing your entries.

  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. Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume by Foodographic

    The North West Heat of the Great British Menu is shaping up to be fantastic viewing. Newcomer to the contest, Simon Rogan’s dishes are already wowing judge Marcus Wareing.  Those in London may have sampled his gastronimic delights at the “pop up” Roganic, but what about Simon’s original stomping ground in Cartmel, the North West of England,  L’Enclume?  We sent Great British Chefs guest blogger Deanna Thomas along to find out….

    Photography & Review by Deanna Thomas

    To be honest, I was apprehensive about reviewing this one. L’Enclume has consistently wowed diners and critics with its molecular gastronomy and is currently rated at number 2 ‘Top 50 restaurants’ in the Good Food Guide. Like opera is to pop music, the style of food produced here is on another level and would be virtually impossible to replicate at home. It treads a delicate balance between a real affinity with nature, and scientific boundary-pushing.

    Every dish is put together using several involved components, each in turn with a mind-blowing array of individual processes. The restaurant has its own development kitchen/science laboratory, full of chefs’ toys and contraptions which can deconstruct all manner of vegetable matter and refashion it into different forms. My worry was that during all this gastro-processing and ever-so-clever reconstituting, had they forgotten the basic objective of feeding hungry customers with actual food? Would we be served several platefuls of clouds, spumes and foams? Flavoured and powdered air and things that look like soil but aren’t?

    L'Enclume 5

    Cartmel is a beautiful village full of pretty, painted Lakeland stone houses, independently owned shops and old fashioned English pubs. L’Enclume overlooks the gardens and the babbling brook to the ancient church beyond. Many ingredients come from their own six acre farm which provides them with a level of almost total control from field to fork. Each dish features lesser known herbs and leaves which are so fresh they’re picked only a few hours before each service.

    The format is simple; there is no ‘a la carte’ menu as such. Diners choose from two set eight-course menu’s (one vegetarian) for £69, or a 12 course menu for £89, and are asked to declare any special dietary requirements at the point of booking. If you prefer to choose your own three course meal, try Simon Rogan’s brasserie round the corner ‘Rogan & Company’ 

    L'Enclume 10

    We contemplated the view and the menu over a cucumber scented gin and tonic, duck skin scratchings and lightly puffed tapioca crackers. The menu is a bit of a tease. There’s no way anyone could guess what a dish could possibly be by its description alone - that’s part of the adventure.

    The first items to arrive were simply described as ‘onion cheese wafers’ and were thin, translucent crisps topped with shavings of frozen cheese, intense onion marmalade and slightly sweet biscuit crumbs. What a great way to get the taste buds woken up and tingling.

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    This was closely followed by ‘Oysters pebbles’ – soft, savoury, grey meringue and oyster leaves nestled in camouflage amongst a bowl of real pebbles. The fleshy leaves combined with the aerated squid ink infusion giving a real wave of sea-salty tanginess.

    L'Enclume 7

    Soon after appeared ‘carrot sacks’. I wasn’t sure which part of the carrot was it’s ‘sack’ but it turned out to describe the little ceramic serving pots containing emulsified carrot mousse hiding chunks of lobster, and topped with carrot cake crumbs.

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    A trio of warm bread rolls were brought over at this point – dark and nutty pumpernickel, spelt and barley, and white organic flour, with whipped, salted butter.

    Simon Rogan loves the purity of earthy vegetables and native leaves, elevating them out of the background and into the spotlight they deserve. His dishes strive to capture the essence of an English pastoral landscape - silky golden turnip dumplings drizzled with a strong cheesy dressing of Westcombe cheddar, crispy Alexander leaf tempura and rock samphire.

    L'Enclume 3

    Next, tartare of valley venison on a smear of darkly-fried onions, dots of English mustard, crisp celery, shallots and two tiny, intensely flavoured fennel sweets which quite unexpectedly burst their liquid-centre into our mouths under only the slightest pressure.

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    The pace of service, like everything, is closely controlled by the kitchen and at this point they allowed for a little break before presenting ‘Dublin bay prawn in pig skin, beetroot and sea beet’. The pig skin added a contrasting crunch to the prawn in the form of a coating of the lightest crackling. Beetroot appeared in triplicate - a golden puree, pale yellow shavings and their green oceanic cousin, sea beet. The dish was drizzled with warm concentrated seafood bisque.

    L'Enclume

    Sole fillet, cockles, crow’s garlic, celeriac and chestnut puree was a delicious combination of flavours and textures topped with fried winter cabbage leaves. I imagined the head chef standing at the pass holding his checklist to ensure it was perfectly balanced – hot, cold, rich, light, nutty, sweet, fresh, soft, crunchy. Yes, all those boxes of adjectives ticked, ‘service!’

    L'Enclume 13

    Lightly cooked Dexter beef appeared next, with tiny squares of tripe braised in a slightly fishy concentrate (oyster sauce?) Bold colours came from a syrupy reduction of red cabbage juice, watercress puree and crispy marrowbone. Like a good cast in a West-End play, each element absolutely supported the beef without letting it dominate.

    The marrowbone was smoked before being used to infuse balls of bechamel coated in breadcrumbs. This put us in mind of Findus Crispy pancakes of all things. Ever since my husband commented that Wagyu beef reminded him of the burger in a big Mac, I’ve realised that the mind reaches for comparative flavour memories to bring an element of comfort and familiarity. Now we’re being honest, the stuff they used to stick the pork skin to the prawn reminded me of the squeezy flavour sachet you get with a Pot Noodle. See? This has a lot to do with personal nostalgic taste references.

    That was the end of the savoury wave, which made way for desserts – but, being in L’Enclume, not as we know them. Enter the most dramatic dish of the day, ‘sea buckthorn, anise hyssop, liquorice and butternut’, a riot of aerated textures, the eating of which was not unpleasantly like fighting with a cloud. Butternut squash was dehydrated and its dried natural fibres morphed into something resembling a sea sponge.

    L'Enclume 9

    The bright orange was mirrored in a sharp sherbet tangerine sorbet, and offset by warm liquorice custard.  I’m not sure in what form the sea buckthorn came (though I promise I was listening) but, as it’s also bright orange, could have been the powdery sprinkles. Anise hyssop leaves were dotted around the plate. Further research told me they are related to sea buckthorn which shows Simon Rogan to be a man who studies botany and uses families of plants and vegetables to inspire his dishes.

    L'Enclume 4

    The final dish was a pretty riot of colour and texture - a witty play on cheese and biscuits. Smooth, frozen cheese ice cream and bright green sorrel granita, bright pink rhubarb syrup, poached pear and short, crunchy hazelnuts biscuits.

    To cook this style of food successfully you need to be obsessed with detail, have natural ability and an intimate knowledge of ingredients. I also think it’s imperative to back it all up with a sense of fun – which really appeals to our British eccentricity.

    It’s almost impossible to communicate how any creative experience makes you feel, which is why I was so apprehensive about writing this review. To report that I ate sea buckthorn and anise hyssop is unlikely to inspire anyone to visit - no more than my attempt at singing a libretto would get you all fired up for a night at the opera. However, we had fun, it wasn’t at all pretentious or intimidating, and we never did have to stop for a burger on the way back.

    Deanna Thomas reviewed Simon Rogan's L’Enclume for Great British Chefs.

    You can see Simon Rogan on series 7 Great British Menu competing for the North West this week.  Which are your favourite dishes from Deanna’s meal. We’ll be discussing this over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.

  5. 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.

  6. Roganic? Wow!

    What’s small, has a life span of only two years, is 100% British and absolutely delicious … and appears to be thriving in the very heart of London’s urban chic Marylebone village? The answer is Simon Rogan and Penny Tapsell’s Blandford Street eatery, Roganic: a two year pop restaurant ‘passionate about the very best in British natural ingredients all cooked with skill and imagination and served with warmth and style’.  Great British Chefs' blogger Chris Osburn went along to see what was on offer.

    DSC_8077 by Tiki Chris

    All photography by Chris Osburn

    Roganic’s location is about as Zone 1/Central London as a place can possibly be.

    DSC_8027 by Tiki Chris

    Still Rogan and Tapsell succeed in bringing a bit of the country (a la their Michelin starred Lake District restaurant L’Enclume) to the big city.

    DSC_8055

    Key to this success is Ben Spalding, a responsive and enthused head chef, and a smartly assembled team backing him up at the front of house and in the kitchen as he comes up with some amazing dishes as intriguingly flavoursome as they are pleasant to look at.

    Ben Spalding by Tiki Chris

    Spalding’s creations represent British dining at its best. The vast majority of ingredients used are British.

    DSC_8065 by Tiki Chris

    On my visit, I was told everything served to me and my dining companion was from Britain except a wee bit of Congolese chocolate shaved atop some venison .. and of course some of the wines (although the meal started with English sparkling) and coffee.

    DSC_8034 by Tiki Chris

    In capable hands, great things can be done with locally sourced ingredients. I could wax poetic about the courses I had the pleasure of sampling during my recent lunch, but I think that would spoil what’s so delightful about a visit to Roganic. Reading the menu, then seeing how the dishes are actualised, how they are presented and paired with wines … it’s all part of a refined (yet far from stuffy) experience.

    DSC_8093by Tiki Chris

    However, I will say that if bilberries, Mr Little’s Yetholm Gypsies or King Richards are anywhere on the menu when you go round, you’ll be in luck. Also, a warm milkshake seasoned with Douglas fir is awesome. And now I’ll refrain from the urge to blather on about warm spiced bread, smoked clotted cream, buckshorn plantains, chokeberry vinia.

    DSC_8080 by Tiki Chris

    Already six months or so into its 24 month run, Roganic is a must-do for anyone seeking a refreshing and seasonal dining experience. I’m certainly keen to return and especially curious to find out how Spalding and crew will go about a winter menu come January and February and then what they’ll do in the early days of spring … and then … Yeah, this is one for repeat visits.

    DSC_8089 by Tiki Chris

    Roganic is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner with three, six and ten course menus available (but keep reading if you plan to visit Roganic in evening during December 2011).

    DSC_8075 by Tiki Chris

    The three course menu (£29 or £35 with two glasses of wine) is offered Tuesday through Friday lunch time only. The six course menu (£55) is offered Tuesday through Friday during lunch and dinner and on Saturdays only during lunch. The ten course menu (£80) is available Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner (and is the only menu offered on Saturday evenings).

    DSC_8090 by Tiki Chris

    NB: During the month of December 2011, the ten course menu is the only menu offered as the evening meal.

    Roganic Review for Great British Chefs by Chris Osburn  More of Chris’s photos from his visit at this link. Recipes from Simon Rogan’s celebratory menu can be downloaded on Great British Chefs Feastive App.

    How important is it to you that restaurants use locally sourced ingredients? Which restaurants will you be eating out in with family & friends over Christmas?  What are your favourite local restaurants?  We’ll be discussing these questions over on Great British Chefs’ Facebook page.