Whay aye man, it was the turn of the North East on Great British Menu this week, divvin ya knaah and it was reet canny. Although at no point in proceedings, did we get anyone screaming, ‘Where’s me scran? I’m clamming.’ I just thought it would be a lark to kick off with some hackneyed, regional phrases. Not that any of our chefs were actually from Newcastle, mind. Both Mini Patel, head chef at The Pointer and Chris Archer, who plys his trade at the Cottage in the Woods, are from Leeds. And self-taught and Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks, well he was born and raised in Oldstead, near York and has never left the village, where he cooks at The Black Swan. So there was a missed opportunity here, for the producers to bring on board some Geordie wit to proceedings. I can only hope that for next year, we get to see the likes of the cheeky and cosy Hairy Bikers.
To raise a smile, should Tom Aikens ever appear as mentor again. For that man is serious. Very serious. Though I suspect he also revels in his bogeyman persona and whenever he is trying to put the heebie jeebies through the competing chefs, he is giggling inside like a naughty little schoolboy. I mean who turns around and says things like, ‘I don’t want to put any pressure on you but for my starter when I appeared on GBM, I got a nine.’ C’mon Tom, give the boys a break! Ya radgie, you.
Anyway, moving swiftly on to last weeks action in the GBM kitchen, it was Mini who had the most to prove, having failed to reach judgement day on previous series. His starter was called ‘Charity Begins At Home’ recognising the efforts of people who run food banks and soup kitchens. Using guinea fowl as the star ‘protein’, as chefs often call meat this days, Mini created spheres of thigh and vegetable that were topped with a celeriac puree and accompanied by rarebit toasties. The spheres themselves were then melted by pouring a guinea fowl consomme over the top, which impressed Tom at first but the resultant muddy finish left the dish far from being desired. Tommy did better, a lot better, as he plumped for the Queen Mother’s favourite, calling it ‘Ouefs Drumkilbo 2016’. A dish with origins that suggest it was originally thrown together with no thought, Tommy brought in a lot more refinement with smoked duck eggs, pickled radish and buttered kohlrabi. Which used to be a dreaded no-no for Tom but he rather liked Tommy’s squat-like bulb.