Great British Menu 2014, South West Heat Preview

Great British Menu 2014, South West Heat Preview

by Mecca Ibrahim 20 April 2014

Week Two of Great British Menu and it's the turn of chefs from the South West of England to shine. Marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the chefs have to prepare a menu that's worthy of war heroes. Four overall winners will serve veterans at a banquet in London’s magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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Mecca worked as head of social media at Great British Chefs and joined at its launch in July 2011.

Mecca worked as head of social media at Great British Chefs and joined at its launch in July 2011.

Over eight weeks twenty four of the finest chefs in the country including many chefs from Great British Chefs site are competing in regional heats for the opportunity to create a four course menu for the D Day special banquet. This week is a particularly special one for us as all three chefs are on Great British Chefs site and are familiar faces with our visitors!

We’re delighted to see Josh Eggleton making his first appearance on Great British Menu. Josh’s career started at his local chippie when he was 15. After becoming a Gordon Ramsay Scholar in 2003, he turned down jobs with the likes of Ramsay, Angela Hartnett and Marcus Wareing to return to Chew Magna near Bristol and transform The Pony & Trap's kitchen into what it is today.

Acquiring the freehold of the pub in 2009, Josh won a Michelin star at the age of 27, making The Pony & Trap Somerset's only gastro pub with a Michelin. The Pony & Trap has kept that star since 2011 and in January 2014 was ranked 3rd in the Publican Morning Advertiser's Top 50 UK Gastropubs.

Josh is a Director and founder of Eat Drink Bristol Fashion a three week pop up event in Bristol from 1st - 18th May featuring some of the UK's best known chefs in the South West. Many former Great British Menu contestants will be appearing at the event this year including Nathan Outlaw, Simon Hulstone, Paul Ainsworth, Richard Davies and Peter Sanchez-Iglesias. It's a great way to sample their menus in one exciting and relaxed location. See which tickets are still available at this popular event..

Josh is extremely excited to make his first appearane on Great British Menu and said: "During the filming of the show I engaged loads with my Nan, and learnt so much about her life as an eight year old that was evacuated to Devon. The amazing thing about her is her memory, she remembers everything. Every time we spoke she had a new story to talk about. It was something we never talked about in detail and it truly opened up my mind to how tough things were back then. When we were filming, I said to the crew, I bet she will tell a story I haven’t heard of and true to form she did.

"I read and researched a lot around the effect on everyday life and the way folks back then had to be creative and resourceful with what they had. It has been great to be part of the series this year."

Also making his first appearance on Great British Menu is Dominic Chapman. He cut his teeth in the culinary world and gained an abundance of experience as chef de partie at Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred The Fat Duck from 2000 to 2002. Thie as followed by a stint at London's fashionable Kensington Place. Dominic then relocated to less formal settings when he was invited by Blumenthal to be head chef at The Hinds Head in Bray.

In 2007, Chapman became head chef at The Royal Oak. Since then he has earned the pub a Michelin star, three AA rosettes and a 6/10 rating in the Good Food Guide. Dom will also be appearing at Eat Drink Bristol Fashion on 9th May.

For Great British Menu all of Dominic's courses are dedicated to a different D-Day landing site and the troops who fought there. "This year's brief was very exciting and actually, I thought, perfect for my style of cooking." said Dominic.

"Great British Menu is so much about the brief and if you don't hit that brief, it's difficult to move forward in the competition. I was inspired by a trip to the beaches of Normandy. Seeing the beaches where our boys landed and the bunkers and gun turrets up on the high ground they had to take. It was inspirational trip."

Last but not least, returning contender, Emily Watkins, will be hoping to represent the South West this year after losing out Peter Sanchez-Iglesias in 2013. Mother of three and chef owner at The Kingham Plough, Oxfordshire, Emily has a lot on her proverbial plate.

After waitressing at Ristorante Beccofino in Florence she progressed to a full time role in the kitchen. Her Head Chef saw her talents and recommended her to Heston Blumenthal and Emily soon found herself working at the legendary restaurant: The Fat Duck.

She opened The Kingham Plough in 2007 with her husband. It's gone on to win many accolades including a prestigious Bib Gourmand from the Michelin guide for three years running, two AA Rosettes, the Cotswolds Life ‘Dining Pub of The Year’ award twice, and The Good Pub Guide ‘Country Dining Pub of The Year’.

Both of Emily’s grandparents were involved in the war. Commander Robin Watkins, her paternal grandparent, worked in the War Office and helped plan D-Day. Nigel Gray, on her mother’s side, served on HMS Valliant before being held as a prisoner of war.

Scoring a perfect 10 for her main course in 2013 she will be hoping the dishes inspired by her grandparents experience will allow her to honour the veterans at the banquet.

As with previous years, the show follows the familiar format with the chefs cooking a starter on Monday, a fish course on Tuesday, the main course on Wednesday and dessert on Thursday. A veteran judge will select two chefs to cook their menu again on Friday’s show for the judges Matthew Fort, Oliver Peyton & Prue Leith. On Friday the three judges are joined by hero of the D-Day landings, 93-year-old war veteran Ken Sturdy, a Royal Navy signalman in World War II who will bring his special perspective on the dishes served.