Great British Menu 2017: Wales recap

Great British Menu 2017: Wales recap

by Kate Doran 10 June 2017

The land of lamb and lush green fields is thrust into the spotlight in Great British Menu – Kate Doran tells us how the chefs got on.

View more from this series:

Kate Doran is the blogger behind 'The Little Loaf', specialising in nostalgic baking recipes.

Kate Doran is the blogger behind 'The Little Loaf'. Passionate about bread, cake and all manner of homemade sweet treats, she is also the author of Homemade Memories: Childhood Treats with a Twist, which was published earlier this year.

A tomato nestled inside its own miniature greenhouse, a sophisticated twist on a barbecue and an edible tennis ball: these are the things that Wimbledon banquets are made of.

Bright-eyed and buoyed up by five consecutive weeks of Great British eating, the judges arrived in their chamber seeking summer, sunshine, warmth and pleasure from the Welsh chefs. Or chefs from Wales, we should say, as Nick Brodie hails in fact from Lancashire, despite having made this corner of the country his home.

Up against Nick was Phil Carmichael, head chef at London’s Berners Tavern and returning to the competition for the third year in a row. Would it be third time lucky with his interpretation of the summer brief, or would newcomer Nick cash in and get his adventurous cooking to the final?


First up was Phil’s The Greenhouse, a celebration of tomato with jelly, consommé and a beautiful red ox heart stuffed with burrata on a bed of black olive crumble and burnt onion. The star of the show came surrounded by greenery inside a Greenhouse cloche, a summery gimmick of appearance which seemed to impress all the judges bar Andy. Nick’s meatier starter, The Constant Gardener, was an explosion of colour on a plate, with rabbit loin, leg and liver accompanied by heritage carrots in eight variations including two types of puree, ketchup and a foam. In the weekly heats he was criticized by guest chef Tom Aikens for lack of flavour in his meat and, despite adding extra seasoning, the judges decided it lacked oomph.

After a shaky start, Nick failed to redeem himself with Boat Trip, which scored an eight from Tom on Tuesday. Despite judging it ‘too pretty to eat’, guest Dan Bloxham, the All England Tennis Club Master of Ceremonies found the dish confused with flavours simply not working together. A case of style over substance, as the plate was certainly a picture of summer.

Phil’s fish, on the other hand, proved the dish of the day. Mackerel in Summer Flavours consisted of mackerel in a summer cup and cucumber cure – both tartare and torched – the eating of it accompanied by murmurs of pleasure, mutterings of ‘flawless’ and ‘magical’ and perfect tens across the board.


As you might expect from the Welsh round, the main course consisted of a battle of the lamb. Nick’s The Brecon Beacons: The Garden of Wales was made with Summer lamb loin, fillet and sweetbreads accompanied by garden vegetables and a chive mayonnaise. The judges were divided as to whether the ‘still bleating’ lamb was as they’d like it, but were universal in applauding the amount of work that went in, down to Nick’s peeling of his peas.

We’ve seen several miniature barbecues throughout the competition, but Phil’s

Fired! may just be the most successful yet. His barbecued lamb leg with coleslaw, potato salad and barbecue sauce sounded simple on paper, but in the execution proved to have just enough of a sophisticated twist. Judges loved the theatre and the fun and gaiety it brought to the normally serious chamber, with Oliver imagining himself and Dan on centre court, barbecues in hand.

During Thursday’s test run, Nick’s Apple Scrumping dessert was criticized by Tom Aikens for not being summery enough so it was interesting to see a complete reinvention on Friday. The white chocolate apple became a juicy red strawberry in Red Knees, accompanied by enough sweet and sharp flavours to please even Oliver, not normally a white chocolate fan. But despite these rescue attempts, Nick’s reinvention was outshone by Phil’s pleasingly bonkers Game, Set and Massive Mess. Any dessert involving an edible tennis ball is going to be popular in a Wimbledon banquet competition. Fill it with Eton mess and sit it on top of a trifle made with peaches and Champagne, and you’re onto a winner. Judges praised Phil’s creativity, the texture and fulfillment of the brief with a bowl full of summer both to look at and to eat.

Practise, it seems, does make perfect, and Phil was crowned champion for Wales. With so many delicious dishes cooked so far, it’s a tough call which will reach the banquet, but I’ve got good money on that tennis ball making an appearance.