This week, our judges, Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton, were joined by fourth guest judge, Molly Rose, who flew spitfires for the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War.
The finals began with Paul’s celebratory breakfast starter dedicated to his soldier grandfather. The dish, called “Duck & Soldiers”, consisted of duck spam, duck liver parfait, duck egg and sourdough soldiers. Upon first impressions, Prue said it “smells really good.” Matthew appreciated the textures, commenting on the various elements of the dish. But does it work as a banquet dish? “It does - it’s absolutely delicious,” said Molly. “Lovely flavours but it’s very rich which is a bit of a mistake for a first course,” argued Prue. Molly, however, insisted “it’s a lovely homage."
Colin’s “Modern Ration Pack” starter of corned beef hash in mustard pannacotta, teabag of soup bouillon, smoked bacon croquette, parmesan cigarette and controversial cherry chocolate explosion received mixed reviews. “That is just what you need in a starter,” said Oliver of the chocolate. However, two of the four judges’ chocolate exploded all over their plates. “I’m not enthusiastic about it,” said Molly.
Onto the fish course, Paul went first again with his “Preservation of British Waters”, a dish which showcased typical preserving methods during the war: cured salmon, pickled clams, white crab meat and yogurt, brown crab butter, sea herbs and watercress and oyster puree, served on miniature sandbags. “The salmon is absolutely delicious,” said Matthew. But grand enough for the banquet? “Not totally sure about the special banquet,” said Molly. “This is a dish of quiet and civilised pleasures but what we need is a dish of explosive pleasures,” said Matthew.
Colin’s barbecue-your-own “From War to Peace” fish course delivered in spades. The dish, featuring delicate shellfish mousse hidden in squid ink pasta with raw langoustines, ready for the BBQ, showcased how the Normandy beaches are now a place of peace. “I think this would be great fun for the banquet,” said Oliver. “My langoustine is perfectly cooked,” said Matthew. Prue loved the squid ink pasta. The judges weren’t sure what the connection was to D-Day, but they didn’t mind. “I’m not sure but I like it,” said Oliver. “I think this is absolutely delicious and the presentation is extremely clever - I can’t fault it in any way,” said Molly.