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8 things we predict will happen in Great British Menu 2016

8 things we predict will happen in Great British Menu 2016

by Izzy Burton 27 May 2016

Great British Menu 2016 is creeping ever closer, and once again the chefs are tasked to prepare dishes for a prestigious banquet. Izzy Burton offers some predictions for what we might see on this year's show, as well as what the all-important theme might be.

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Izzy writes for Great British Chefs where she combines a lifetime love of food and tricolons.

Great British Menu is returning to our screens this summer, and despite the BBC remaining tight-lipped about this year's theme we think we might've cracked the code. While last year marked the tenth series of the show, this year is a decade since the Queen’s eightieth birthday and her enviably well-catered banquet – high time she had another one then, surely? We're keeping our fingers crossed...

We at Great British Chefs have spent a fair few years now keeping our eye on the action in the kitchen, so it is with some degree of mathematical certainty that we make the following predictions of what we can expect from the latest series. From sultry pudding flashbacks to returning heroes, read on and see if you agree.

1. Marcus Wareing’s custard tart gets mentioned (a lot)

Simple yet effortlessly elegant, Marcus Wareing’s custard tart recipe was no doubt one of the highlights of the first series and if our bold banquet predictions hit the mark is it is bound to be held up as a paragon of creamy, wobbly virtue this year. I frequently relive it in my dreams as a mere viewer, yet these paltry pastry fantasies will no doubt prove nothing compared to the judges, guests, chefs and television producers involved in this year’s competition. If we're right, expect it to be mentioned in an infinite stream of talking heads, any time the judges are presented with pastry and a few flashback zoom shoots of it being sliced and served at the original banquet.

2. Familiar faces on the other side of the process

In the great tradition of chefs moving up the Great British Menu ranks from competitor to guest judge/mentor, expect to see some of last year’s stand out characters take a turn. We’re hoping for appearances from the exceedingly winning (in every sense) Matt Gillan and culinary punk Michael O’Hare – the plating advice of the latter in particular would be fantastic to hear (and seeing the competing chefs trying to process it would make excellent television).

3. Young guns steal the show

It’s also nice to see a new generation of chefs competing as the years go by and, given the show’s impressive lifespan, it seems likely that by now we’ll begin to see even more bright young competitors who have trained under chefs who competed in the first few series – rumour has it the head chefs from Daniel Clifford, Marcus Wareing (my custard tart senses are tingling) and Jason Atherton’s restaurants, all already highly respected chefs in their own right, could be competing this year.

4. Equipment errors are made and armchair chefs rejoice

There's no question that each and every chef in the competition is extremely talented, but the pressures of a competition can get to anyone – especially when you factor in television crew buzzing about the kitchen zooming in to catch every drop of fear. With this in mind, there are bound to be some mistakes made in the heat of the moment which (to the viewer) seem absurdly amateur and (for the chef) result in some nervous bleeped out swearing and a tea towel being flicked dramatically over their shoulder. 'What, she forgot to set the right vacuum time on the chamber sealer?!' we cry from our armchairs, takeaway cartons and crisp packets stacking up by our feet. 'He tried to make a mackerel snow without using maltodextrin? Em-barrassing!' This is all part of the viewing process, and the show wouldn't be the same without it.

5. Royalty puns reign supreme

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a royal feast is on the cards for the sheer wealth of punning opportunities, offering some respite from Wendy Lloyd's voiceover saying 'the pressure is on' and 'no room for error' ad infinitum. Shall we start taking bets now on how often something will be described as ‘fit for a queen’, a disaster referred to as ‘a royal mess’ or the inevitable O’Hare cameo dubbed ‘Princess Michael of Leeds’? (Okay, fairly long odds on that last one I admit.)

6. Creative presentation gets even weirder

It’d probably be more out-there of us to say that we think plates will be used this series, as the trend for ‘alternative’ ways of presenting food continues on and off our screens. To be fair to the competing chefs, though, there’s a big difference between creating a conceptual piece around a theme and serving some chips in a bucket and spade. Great British Menu brings us the former, and over the past few years we’ve seen pint-sized picnic benches, mess tins, canvases and however it is you’d want to describe the smoky, moss-strewn landscape that was Colin McGurran’s Quail in the woods, all of which add atmosphere and context to the dishes they’ve created. What can we expect from the competitors this year if they're given a regal theme to play with? Cheese soufflé served on a throne? Mackerel pâté balanced on a live corgi? A Duke of Edinburgh carved out of venison? I simply cannot wait.

 
 
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Matt Gillan and Mark Froydenlund, no doubt asking Lee Westcott if he's nervous (mate)

7. Variations – or not – on a theme

On the subject of creative presentation, it seems fated that at least two chefs will land on the same interpretation or concept for their dishes (fingers crossed for a venison Prince Philip double up, then). What will be this year's version of the WI-themed savoury sponge cakes and afternoon tea starters served up at every opportunity? Time will tell.

8. The chefs ask each other if they’re nervous, replying that they’re not nervous (despite looking extremely nervous)

Ahh, another Great British Menu tradition which the show would feel incomplete without – some shaky-voiced showboating in the kitchen. As a visibly sweating chef plates up against the clock, firefighting unexpected disasters and, occasionally, actual fires, his peers hover nearby. ‘Nervous, mate?’ one will helpfully call over. ‘No, mate,’ the sweating chef will reply. ‘Not nervous.’ These exchanges are particularly enjoyable when a chef has completely reinvented a dish based on the initial scathing feedback and are sending a completely untested recipe off into the judging chamber. Nervous? Now why should they feel nervous…

What do you think this year's series of Great British Menu holds? Which chefs would you like to see returning, and what have been some of your favourite kitchen moments over the last ten years?

 
 
 
 

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