Well, that was emotional. Having watched countless episodes of Great British Menu in the past, at times, it is all too easy to slide into a cynical frame of mind, as the usual highs and formulaic lows unfold on the screen. However, this one got to me for some reason. Which in part I think was down to some of the very real stories behind this celebration of ordinary Britons. And secondly, it was down to the camaraderie of the four chefs who made it through. They worked their socks off in this competition, they always do. But there was something different about the dynamic gang on this occasion. As a team, Mark Abbot, Tommy Banks, Mark Froydenlund and Adam Reid seemed to have special spark (not to mention sense of humour) and it was great to watch them in action. As the credits rolled, I was left with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach and something must have got in my eye…
Blimey, I didn’t mean to kick off proceedings like this. Let’s inject some misanthropic derision here. I mean, what did Oliver think he was doing turning up to the banquet in a white dinner jacket? Does he think he’s James Bond or something? There, that’s better, now let’s get on with the rest of the show.
On a frosty morning the chefs arrived at Westminster Palace, all tired and nervous from having not slept a wink. They probably could have done without the grand tour from Lindsay Hoyle, deputy speaker at the House of Commons. ‘Yes Lindsay, all this history is amazing but please, show us the bloody kitchens,’ I am sure they were imagining in the heads. Yet the tour was purposeful in a way. Standing, staring at a portrait of Sir Walter Rayleigh, Mark A was keenly reminded, that if wasn’t for Sir Walter, you wouldn’t be here mate. If you remember, his starter was composed of potatoes, done six different ways. It was duly noted.
Having to cater for 14,000 people a day, you would have thought that there would be plenty of kitchen space to go around but all Westminster’s executive chef Mark Hill could offer was time. ‘Ere’s yer bleedin’ kitchen, I want it back by seven,’ he barked and that thoroughly smacked our chef’s gobs.