This week, our judges, Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton, were joined by fourth guest judge, Joy Hunter MBE, who served as Secretary in the Cabinet War Rooms and typed up battle orders for D-Day.
Coming out of the heats, Adam and Tom were on even ground, both scoring an impressive 31. No doubt the finals would be a close match, or as Oliver called it, “a humdinger” of a battle.
Tom was up first with his “Dig for Victory” starter, made with goats yogurt, herb emulsion and malt soil, served with pickled, blanched and baked vegetables “planted” in the soil. Prue liked the presentation, calling it “an allotment for one.” Oliver was just as impressed with the flavours: “I think the chicken contrasts really well - I love this dish.” Prue was less impressed: “the chicken is too wet.” But our guest judge Joy enjoyed the “clever mix of vegetables."
Adam’s starter, “Your Share”, prompted less contention and accolades all around. The dish combined new school techniques with old school concepts: dehydrated celeriac, chicken liver parfait, chicken yolk, chicken wing, chicken “spam” served in tins, crispy chicken skin and consommé served in replica wartime flasks. Joy called it “great… very tasty… and good fun.” Oliver was equally impressed: "Loads of rich textures going on…this would definitely have helped with the war.” Matthew called it a "very sophisticated, very modern piece of cooking’ and Prue pointed out that “dehydration was a perfect wartime technique."
Up next was Tom’s turbot fish course, “Taste of Normandy”, using ingredients typical of the area: apples, samphire, black celeriac and oysters. “Doesn’t it smell so beautiful,” said Prue. “It is extraordinarily hard to cook fish this well,” said Oliver. Prue agreed, “it’s extraordinarily good.” Joy felt that Churchill would have liked this dish: “it’s elegant.”
Onto the fish courses, Adam’s “Silver Darlings” came first, depicting London during the war: herring paté in cucumber jelly, charcoal mayo, pickled herring, horseradish snow, herring powder and herbs. The judges were visibly delighted with this dish. “Absolutely magnificent,” said Joy, “I think it’s really yummy.” "The cucumber sets off the fish," said OP, “the taste is absolutely perfect.” Matthew was similarly impressed with the horseradish. “The only question mark is the charcoal mayo,” said Prue, but even so, she thought the rest of the dish was amazing.
Adam’s main course, one of his lowest scoring dishes during the week (while Tom’s scored a perfect 10), was up first. His dish, “The Bulldog”, was inspired by a visit to Churchill’s war rooms and consisted of walnut puree, walnut pieces, beetroot, venison sausage, mushrooms, venison loin, aerated pommel puree, finished with truffle, frozen blackberry, blackberry vinegar and venison sauce on the side.