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Great British Menu 2015: Central heat preview

Great British Menu 2015: Central heat preview

by Food Urchin 28 September 2015

In the last round of heats, three top chefs try to impress the judges and get through to represent the central region in the finals. Food Urchin, aka Danny Kingston, rounds up what we can expect to see in the kitchen this week.

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We’ve all probably been there. We have all served up something that we aren’t particularly happy with, a dish that has gone ever so slightly awry, a concept that has just fallen short in the execution. I know I have. It was just a small dinner party with some close friends and in a bid to impress, I decided that lamb tongue, poached, chopped and set in aspic would be the order of the day. A great deal of attention and time went into that starter and yet when I put the plates down in front of people, I knew straight away that I had cooked up a stinker. How? Well, I could just tell by the widening of my guests’ eyes, with pupils enlarged in shock, that this was not going to go down well. And what was I thinking anyway, serving up something that looked like Pedigree Chum.

But yes, the eyes never lie and after viewing the most recent snippet of Great British Menu, I saw that same look on Richard Corrigan’s face when he tried Jason Hodnett’s monkfish liver. I am not saying that his twist on liver, bacon and onion is anywhere near my misfired effort but I got the impression that he wasn’t overly happy. He definitely didn’t like being questioned on the relevance of his sea herbs.

'It’s a fish dish . . . chef,' came his withering response.

So, it looks like this week could be a tense one and we’ll all have to keep our handbags on standby for a collective 'Ooooooooh' for whenever the need arises.

Let’s find out more about the chefs representing the central region then, starting with Jason Hodnett, who is head chef at The Raven, in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Another chef who started his career at the whippersnapping age of 16, Jason has worked at a variety of restaurants, including The Saracens at Hadnall, Shrewsbury. This is Jason’s second time on the competition, where last year he made a big impression on judge Marcus Wareing for his main course. but unfortunately didn’t quite make it to the judge’s chamber. The main source of inspiration for his menu for the WI banquet is his Mum and no doubt she will be watching with great interest, worrying whether he has washed behind his ears and whatnot.

Second up is Pip Lacy, who is head chef at Murano. Originally from Nottingham, Pip quit the day job as a graphic designer to become a chef and evidently feels a lot more comfortable with a knife in her hand, rather than a HB pencil. Having done various stints in kitchens, including the triple Michelin-starred Royal Hospital Road, she is now back working for the chef who gave her her first break. Namely Angela Hartnett. A newbie to the Great British Menu, Pip's menu promises to focus on family values, with a nod and a wink to her Grandmother for good measure.

Richard Bainbridge and Jason Hodnett concentrate on their respective dishes
Richard Bainbridge and Jason Hodnett concentrate on their respective dishes
The judges, before or after judging, we're not sure...
The judges, before or after judging, we're not sure...

Last of all is Richard Bainbridge, chef-owner of Benedicts in Norwich, and this will be fourth time lucky for the esteemed chef, who cut his teeth at The Waterside Inn, working for the Roux Brothers. Galton Blackiston will also probably be keeping an eye on his former protegé at Morston Hall. Finally running his own restaurant is a dream come true for this Norfolk boy (born and bred) having come a long way from his days as a wash boy in a pub, at the tender age of 13. Sporting a fluffy beard for this series, instead of his signature cap, Richard’s menu will be paying homage to all the inspiring women in his life. Including, no doubt, his beloved baby daughter. So we might see something in the shape of a Farley’s rusk. Who knows.

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Great British Menu 2015: Central heat preview


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