We’ve all probably been there. We have all served up something that we aren’t particularly happy with, a dish that has gone ever so slightly awry, a concept that has just fallen short in the execution. I know I have. It was just a small dinner party with some close friends and in a bid to impress, I decided that lamb tongue, poached, chopped and set in aspic would be the order of the day. A great deal of attention and time went into that starter and yet when I put the plates down in front of people, I knew straight away that I had cooked up a stinker. How? Well, I could just tell by the widening of my guests’ eyes, with pupils enlarged in shock, that this was not going to go down well. And what was I thinking anyway, serving up something that looked like Pedigree Chum.
But yes, the eyes never lie and after viewing the most recent snippet of Great British Menu, I saw that same look on Richard Corrigan’s face when he tried Jason Hodnett’s monkfish liver. I am not saying that his twist on liver, bacon and onion is anywhere near my misfired effort but I got the impression that he wasn’t overly happy. He definitely didn’t like being questioned on the relevance of his sea herbs.
'It’s a fish dish . . . chef,' came his withering response.
So, it looks like this week could be a tense one and we’ll all have to keep our handbags on standby for a collective 'Ooooooooh' for whenever the need arises.
Let’s find out more about the chefs representing the central region then, starting with Jason Hodnett, who is head chef at The Raven, in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Another chef who started his career at the whippersnapping age of 16, Jason has worked at a variety of restaurants, including The Saracens at Hadnall, Shrewsbury. This is Jason’s second time on the competition, where last year he made a big impression on judge Marcus Wareing for his main course. but unfortunately didn’t quite make it to the judge’s chamber. The main source of inspiration for his menu for the WI banquet is his Mum and no doubt she will be watching with great interest, worrying whether he has washed behind his ears and whatnot.
Second up is Pip Lacy, who is head chef at Murano. Originally from Nottingham, Pip quit the day job as a graphic designer to become a chef and evidently feels a lot more comfortable with a knife in her hand, rather than a HB pencil. Having done various stints in kitchens, including the triple Michelin-starred Royal Hospital Road, she is now back working for the chef who gave her her first break. Namely Angela Hartnett. A newbie to the Great British Menu, Pip's menu promises to focus on family values, with a nod and a wink to her Grandmother for good measure.