Like a lot of people of a certain age, I have recently taken to keeping an eye on the amount of ‘steps’ I take on an average day, monitoring daily through the use of an app on my phone and with the goal of removing a couple of spare tyres from my midriff. So far, I have been very pleased with my progress. The walks to the corner shop have started to make a difference and at the rate I am going, I should lose a couple of pounds in about, oooh, five years’ time.
To take things up a notch though, I think I am going to need to trail newbie Danny Gill for a week or so. After watching Daniel Clifford’s protégé (and, until quite recently, head chef at his gastropub The Flitch of Bacon) dash about the GBM kitchen during this week’s Central heats, I’d say that boy would get me back into my Speedos in no time at all. Keeping up with the pace were two other newcomers, namely Andrew Scott, executive chef of Restaurant 56 and Daniel Smith, chef-patron of The Ingham Swan in Norfolk. Older chefs yes but no less nimble and so the race to finish line was fairly frenetic all week. Was it exhausting to watch? Yes, very.
Thankfully, Angela Hartnett was in charge to keep a beady eye on proceedings, and to show that she ain’t no pussycat. It was rather lovely in fact, to see all three chefs visibly gulp when Angela raised an eyebrow and said ‘Oh, you think I am an easy target do you boys?’ Jeepers.
Cracking into the starters then, Andrew decided to honour two men who were responsible for setting up a food bank in his region. Called ‘On The Breadline’ his aim was to take humble ingredients such as oxtail and celeriac and to pimp them up for the banquet. He very nearly got there too, after a fumble with the pressure cooker. But for Angela, his soup was too safe and his crisps were too soggy. Danny, going at full pelt, decided to reimagine coronation chicken for his starter and personally, I am beginning to wonder just how many more reincarnations of this dish we are going to see on this series. Still, despite using Angela’s demon ingredient coriander, she saw promise in his use of crispy chicken, raw scallop and curried shallot rings. Daniel, a classic man at heart, plumped for the local line and used native Norfolk partridge to showcase his dish ‘Making A Difference’, along with consommé that was poured into shotgun cartridges and packed with flavour. Poker faced Angela however, suggested there was a lot more to do.