Over eight weeks twenty four of the finest chefs in the country including many chefs from Great British Chefs site are competing in regional heats for the opportunity to create a four course menu for the D Day special banquet.
We’re delighted to see James Durrant making his first appearance on Great British Menu. After years of working for some of the culinary world’s most demanding bosses (Gordon Ramsay and Jason Atherton), James is enjoying the challenge of working for himself at The Plough Inn. James become a chef at the age of 18, working in his native Cheshire before moving down to London. It was here that he experienced his first taste of working in a Michelin star kitchen, joining Gordon Ramsay’s Hospital Road shortly after it had won its third Michelin star and flat-sharing with a young Paul Ainsworth.
Just six months after opening, The Plough Inn received the UK Pub of the Year Award by the Good Food Guide. It now holds two AA rosettes and has been awarded a BIB Gourmand rating for the second year running and was included in the 2014 Michelin Guide.
James’ menu celebrates the bravery shown during the second world war and how we have progressed as a nation with what is available to us now. When carrying out research for his dishes, James discovered that his wife’s grandfather served in the army when he was just 17 and was one of the first to land on the beaches on D Day.
Returning contender Mary Ellen McTague will be hoping to represent the North West this year after losing out Aiden Bryne in 2013 . Formerly from The Fat Duck she now owns Aumbry with her husband. Their restaurant was named 8th Best Restaurant in the UK by voters on Toptable. Mary Ellen also won Chef of the Year award at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival 2013.
Mary Ellen has a very close personal connection with the wartime brief. Taking influences from her husband’s grandparents, Bill and Vera, her menu will echo some of their stories and experiences from the war. Bill is a war veteran and was on HMS Wensleydale on D-Day, while Vera, his wife, was making boots for soldiers back home.