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. Here's a round up of the chefs in the final. Nathan Outlaw who won the South West round. Joining Alan Murchison who won the Scottish round, Daniel Clifford who won the Central round, Colin McGurran who won the North East round, Chris Fearon who won the Northern Ireland round, Simon Rogan who won the North West round, Phil Howard who won the London and 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 scratch 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.
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".
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."
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.