After spending two weeks north of the Watford Gap, the Great British Menu is now heading down south for what looks to be a teary few days. Teary because the humble allium, the onion, is going to be the star of the show. Or so it seems, judging by a clip released by the good ol’ Beeb just this morning (and I do like it when they give us a sneak preview).
Yep, loads and loads and loads of onions will be diced and sliced for Daniel Clifford’s attention this week. The chef patron of two Michelin-starred Midsummer House is this week’s mentor and Daniel can look forward to his onions being prepared four ways in fact; namely jammed, puréed, consomméd and roasted. So I hope he remembered to bring his extra strong mints on set. I also hope that our contending chefs had a healthy supply of hankies on standby too. Not so much for the onion weeping but just in case there is a mishap along the way. One chef is going to be juggling eight elements for his starter no less, presenting a classic opportunity for something to go wrong.
I can picture it now actually. The wailing, Gazza-esque bubbling of despair, with throwing of beetroot and raw beef across the room. All witnessed by the other two, who no doubt be chopping onions with spoons in their mouths. Because we all know that trick, don’t we?
Anyway, onto the chefs.
First up is newcomer, Lee Westcott, Executive Chef at Typing Room and a bit of rising star in his neighbouring Bethnal Green in East London. Fay Maschler is certainly a fan, describing his style of cooking as a ‘triumph'. Working under former Great British Menu champion Tom Aikens has clearly rubbed off on Lee, not forgetting to mention his stints working for Jason Atherton in Hong Kong and at some of the world’s best restaurants including Noma in Copenhagen and Per Se in New York. Taking inspiration from classic Women’s Institute techniques to modern day campaigns, his menu promises to bold and exciting, with a quirky, innovative twist on modern European food.