Great British Menu 2015: Finals preview

Great British Menu 2015: Finals preview

by Food Urchin 05 October 2015

We've reached the long-awaited week of finals in the Great British Menu where the dishes for the WI anniversary banquet are decided. Food Urchin runs us through the chefs battling it out in the kitchen.

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Danny is a food adventurer, home grower, supper club host and writer of the entertaining and quirky epicurean blog, Food Urchin.

Danny is a food adventurer, home grower, supper club host and writer of the entertaining and quirky epicurean blog, Food Urchin.

This is it folks. This week is the big one for our intrepid chefs on the Great British Menu. The eight gladiators who have made it through their regional heats must do battle one more time, in order to get one of their dishes on the final menu of the banquet honouring 100 years of the Women’s Institute. Out of those eight, there is one woman, which in some respects is a travesty. But I have high hopes for Jak O’Donnell and I do believe she will get through, after smitting a fellow chef or two with her fish slice and leaving them in iddy-bitty pieces on the kitchen floor.

Whenever a final looms into view, my brain always has the tendency to inject the ear-worm that is the ‘Final Countdown’ into proceedings. That 80’s soft rock hit by Swedish hair warblers, Europe. Even as I type, the refrain “DE DE DE DAH, DE DAH DAH DAH, DE DE DE DAH, DE DAH DAH DAAAH” is running through my head. Which is making it very hard to concentrate. So I think I will just give you a quick, succinct rundown of the chefs who are competing this week and what I felt were their standout dishes.

Starting with Jak (give ‘em hell!)

Scotland – Jak O’Donnell

Don’t let the pink apron and sweet outward demeanor fool you, Jak has form in this competition and she will not be taking any prisoners with her no-nonsense approach. Her killer dish was her heady whisky-led dessert ‘Ladies Bake with An Angel’s Share’ which left the judges swooning, if not a tad giddy. In fact, Prue nearly fell under the table.

South West – Josh Eggleton

Bristol boy Josh had quite a tough gig trying to get past Dominic Chapman in his heat but managed to storm it at the end with an adept pudding. Plus Josh showed that he wasn’t above using some mind games either. The little trickster. I felt that his fun-packed starter ‘In England’s Green and Pleasant Land’ with little picnic accoutrements was his best effort.

Wales – Adam Bannister

Oven brawler Adam looked like he was against the ropes at several points during his week, especially after freezing his cucumber. But he dug deep and managed to deliver a suckerpunch that left Phil Carmichael reeling. That blow was his ‘Jerusa-lamb’ – a punny yet handsome sharing platter that made Matthew Fort drool all over his tie. It was messy but oh so tasty.

Northern Ireland – Ben Arnold

Young Ben was all sorts of wobbly in the run up to his final but he obviously gave himself a good talking to and straightened himself out in the end. Or maybe it was the earful he got from his mother that did it. His dessert ‘Summer Fayre of the County Trifle’ was a triumph, combining a list of flavours and textures not usually associated with this favourite, so well done Ben.

North East – Michael O’Hare

Get that man a hair net! OK, much has been said about Michael’s hair on social meeja so I won’t harp on about it. Let’s talk about his unique vision and artistic flair instead because he has that in bounds. As shown in his fish dish ‘Emancipation’, a cracking and individual take on the traditional fish and chips.

North West – Matt Worswick

Newcomer Matt is a chef who evidently puts a lot of blood, sweat and tears into everything, which are unique suggestions for seasonings. But if it works, hey, it works. And despite being under pressure for most of his final, he still managed to deliver a cheeky byline here and there. His best dish ‘Shall I Be Mother?’ ticked all the boxes for me. Offally good, so it was.

London and South East – Matt Gillan

Is Matt a chef? Or is he footballer? Judging by his headband and nifty footwork around the kitchen, he could be the latter but there is no doubt that this man is first and foremost, an excellent chef. After coming through an onion stinker, Matt’s ‘Preaching and Teaching’ showed heart, spirit and nous by presenting goat in a multitude of ways.

Central – Richard Bainbridge

This man has waited so long for his chance, having previously entered the competition three times and on his fourth attempt, Richard did it. By putting his heart on his sleeve and by executing some excellent dishes, he bloody well did it. Except for his fish dish, which was a bit rubbish. A battle of the trifles is now on the cards and I think Richard’s ‘Inspiring Women’ will just nudge him in there.

All that is left for me to say now is “Good luck chefs!” and to leave you once more, with that annoying intro, that will be in your heads all day now.