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Great British Menu 2013, Scotland Heat Final

Great British Menu 2013, Scotland Heat Final

by Monica Shaw 09 February 2013

Week two of Great British Menu and the turn of Scotland to take to the stage. Could Michael Smith make it through the tough judging panel and win the Scottish title?

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Monica Shaw's mission is to enable people to feel awesome, through food, life, work and play.

It's not often one gets to combine helium and roadkill with high gastronomy. But such was the case on Friday's Great British Menu which saw chefs Michael Smith of Isle of Skye and Mark Greenaway of Edinburgh battle it out for Scottish glory. Judging the chefs were our usual trio of Oliver Peyton, Matthew Fort and Prue Leith, along with guest judge, comedian Debra Stephenson. The challenge was to produce dishes of culinary excellence that were also true to the spirit of Comic Relief. Here, the chefs' Scottish heritage often came in handy for both purposes.

First to the pass was Mark's rabbit terrine with carrot meringues, served in clever comedy cookbooks, but neither the food nor the comedy seemed to hit the mark. Oliver Peyton referred to the parsley puree as "green sludge" and the terrine "like underseasoned rabbit". No one was laughing, which made it far easier for Michael to steal the show with his "why did the chicken cross the road" starter.

Of course, it didn't matter why the chicken crossed the road, because the poor bird didn't make it: the food was presented in somewhat gory fashion on a black plate featuring beetroot puree splatters (blood), shredded pickled carrots (guts) and a few feathers in case it wasn't totally obvious what happened to the sad chicken. Debra referred to the "carnage" as "comic genius on a plate" while Oliver proclaimed that it "hit the brief on the head" in a very "assured piece of cooking."

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Mark edged even further behind with his fish course, his take on clam chowder with halibut and razorclams, served enshrouded in bubble wrap.

It should have been called "bubble and squeak", said Debra, who admitted she loved it as a layman and argued it could almost be considered "sophisticated" if you used the decorative pastry tuile (which Prue called "greasy" and "flavour free") as a fan. Again, no laughs.

But Michael didn't do much better with his 'smokey slapskink', a smoked halibut soup with black pudding, red-dyed egg yolks (like a Red Nose, get it?) and whisky. Topped with a bowler hat, the dishes were a tribute to the black-and-white comedy greats like Charlie Chaplin, but the humour was lost on the judges.

"I must have had a sense of humour bypass," said Prue. "It's like stirring a fish finger in some whisky... which is weird," said Debra.

 
 
 

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