For the next round it was down to fishy business and again Adam was up first, with that classic 70s favourite method of cooking, the mighty boil in the bag. ‘Captain Bannister’s’ box of delight used turbot instead of cod in a beautiful crab and caper sauce. He would have done well, had he banished the idea of a pea fondant. Michael was not impressed by the floury, green globule one bit. He did like Phil’s 70s take on a prawn cocktail though, or ‘The 70s Called and They Want Their Cocktail Back’ as he called it. Bursting with flavour and innovation and with a scant offering of juicy langoustines, the only thing that let it down was a lack of theatrics. This is for a banquet Phil! Come on! Put a sparkler on it or something.
Andrew also showed that he could also up his game with his ‘Ladies of Penclawwd’, a celebration of plaice and cockles and that popular Welsh ingredient, laverbread. His vinegar gel proved a hit with Michael too and as such, Andrew’s eyes began to twinkle.
However, for the mains round, Andrew suddenly seemed to go safe with his ‘Welsh Wagyu Wasbi.’ This testament to the great Sunday roast again put a strong case forward for championing local produce, but it was his vegetables that shined over the expensive and chewy cut of meat. A shame really, given all those months of massaging and drinking of beer in the valleys. Adam hit a duff note with his boar and barbecue-inspired dish also. Having spent more time in the workshop, fiddling with bits of wire and a lathe for making his wooden board, he seemed to forget that he had a sumptuous main to prepare and as a result his ‘Wild Spit Roast’ looked very sparse and tame indeed. No, out of all of them, only Phil seemed to hit the nail on the head in this round, with his dish called ‘The O.B.E’, in recognition of the Order of the British Empire and that flavoursome combination of onion, bacon and eggs. It sounds simple but was anything but, as he poached, fried and boiled just-set quail eggs. His bacon, represented through smoked belly and cheeks, scored highly with Michael too. And I did like Phil’s explanation as how he cooks the onions (‘you just burn them’). An excellent tip!
Still all fairly even, the desserts round would ultimately decide who would be going through to the judge’s round and Michael wanted to see our chefs inject fun and creativity, ending the banquet with a bang. With that in mind, all three chefs rose to the challenge. Andrew, still intent on showcasing British ingredients as the general thrust of his cooking, paired honey and lemon together in a variety of different ways. Calling it (you’ve guessed it) ‘Honey and Lemon’, he also held his cards to his chest for the final presentation, so when Andrew poured his citrus and herb tea over some dry ice, everyone cooed. Phil also stuck to his guns with his simple approach, which in contrast to Andrew’s theatrics, was to simply let the food do the talking. And his ‘A Cup of Tea for Ma’am’, an Earl Grey-infused panna cotta with orange textures, definitely got tongues waggling.
But if anyone was going to smash it during this round, it had to be Adam with his twist on an Eton mess. Encapsulating all the elements of this traditional British pud, Adam turned everything upside down by combining them into a red cricket ball, to be thwacked open with a wooden bat and sprinkled with strawberry sherbet. In the words of Michael, it looked like ‘great fun.’
Given that Andrew scored a couple of sixes throughout, he was sadly shown the door resulting in a bit of bristle between the two remaining chefs. Phil stood out most in this regard, proclaiming that the ‘gloves were off’ and Adam, haunted by deja vu, seemed to be on the back foot throughout.