Great British Menu 2019: Central recap

Great British Menu 2019: Central recap

by Howard Middleton 06 April 2019

The three chefs representing central England stepped up to the Great British Menu stove this week – see who triumphed in front of the judges with Howard Middleton's recap.

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Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients.

Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients.

In that great tradition of reality TV, it’s been a week of ‘personal journeys’ and ‘emotional rollercoasters’ in the Great British Menu kitchen, as the green door opened to welcome three chefs from the Central region.

Cultivating his image as the coolest kid on the chopping block is newcomer Kray Treadwell from Solihull. Proudly sporting one of the signature bondage aprons that he wears as head chef at Michael O’Hare’s The Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds, Kray swaggered (and at one point actually skateboarded) into the competition brandishing a menu packed with creativity and innovation.

Offering the kind of food that has ‘pop music banquet’ written all over it, he (and fellow contender Ryan Simpson-Trotman from Orwells in Oxforshire) soon suffered the wrath of this week’s veteran judge Paul Ainsworth, when they scored their starters far higher than Paul thought they deserved. Lesson in humility duly noted.

Back again for second helpings is Sabrina Gidda from Wolverhampton, who is head chef at London’s women-only AllBright club. Sabrina missed out on a trip to the judging chamber last year thanks to Ryan but, successfully turning the tables, Sabrina took an early lead to leave Ryan as this year’s Central casualty. Ryan’s high point was his near-perfect fish course but a lacklustre pie and oversweet pudding sadly sealed his fate.

Grime on a plate may not sound very appetising but Kray hopes to translate urban music into a tongue-tingling starter called ‘Fire in the Booth’. Inspired by DJ Charlie Sloth, whose face stares out at diners from bespoke boards, it’s a refined take on the guilty pleasure of late night (or early morning) fast food. Kray tops garlic puree with veal sweetbreads in hot sauce, diced tuna belly, caviar and a generous flurry of grated truffle.

Matthew is not impressed with the miniscule portion, calling it a ‘small fire in a rather large booth’ and this week’s guest judge Ali Campbell of UB40 fame critiques the flavour as ‘more confusion than fusion’.

Sabrina’s starter ‘My Mixtape’ features ox cheek cappelletti in a broad bean and bone marrow sauce. On Wednesday, she battled to salvage enough meat from the burnt sauce of her pressure-cooked ox cheek but it left the pasta filling a little drier than intended. Mercifully the judging chamber is getting a moister (albeit minced) mouthful. Topped with mushroom fricassee, tarragon dressing and pangrattato, it’s finished with a sprinkling of red-veined sorrel cress and Parmesan. The judges overlook a delayed service and praise its rich flavour, though they agree the pasta is a little thick and chewy.

Kray’s fish course, ‘Disdain for Orthodoxy’, is a celebration of punk, complete with a Mohican-style fan of crunchy skate bones dusted with squid ink and vinegar powder. Mussel soup marbled with dill oil is topped with pan-fried ray and turbot, strands of pickled carrot, caviar and a black rice cracker. Silver-sprayed studs of pureed oyster flesh in a cocoa butter shell provide a truly anarchic garnish. Andi thinks the oyster stud is ‘quite unpleasant’ and Matthew is left alone in liking the dish.

Deprived of the opportunity last year to present her top-scoring fish course to the judges, Sabrina runs the risk of repeating herself and decides to do it all over again. Now renamed ‘Brimful of Asha’, her gamble paid off on Wednesday when Paul agreed it was a winner. Onto flaked rice and crab salad, she spoons a rich curry sauce and arranges pan-fried spiced turbot, crispy shallots and coriander cress. Matthew deems it to be ‘sensational’ and Oliver calls it ‘a perfect marriage of ingredients’.

Channelling Ozzy Osbourne (and all things deep purple), Kray presents a dish that yells for attention called ‘Shaaarrrronnn!’. Succulent slabs of seared wagyu rump languish on Stilton-topped black scones, served with purple potatoes, a red cabbage tuile and a sanguine sauce of beef and beetroot. Bat-headed bottles of hot sauce are a complementary condiment and Kray finally draws the compliments to match. ‘I really like this – the beef’s terrific’ admires Oliver, whilst Ali says ‘it’s a showstopper’.


Inspired by her grandfather’s record collection, ‘Sunday Jukebox’ is Sabrina’s roast dinner with a twist. Pork Wellington and Black Country faggots rest on a plate of leek vinaigrette, along with apple puree, compressed apples and an airy cloud of crispy crackling. A despondent-looking Ali admits he’s ‘a bit underwhelmed’. Oliver says ‘everything’s good until you get to the Wellington’ and Matthew flaps a strip of flabby pastry for all to see, in case they haven’t yet discovered its rawness for themselves.

Paying tribute to the Stone Roses song ‘Fools Gold’, Sabrina came over all Jackson Pollock on Thursday and rashly decided to transform the pass into a replica of the band’s album cover using raspberry and mango purees. Paul Ainsworth soberly instructed ‘I hope you’re going to clean up after yourself’. Unable to resist the blank canvas of a white tablecloth in the judging chamber, Sabrina decides to splash out again.

Unfortunately her dessert doesn’t have the same impact. Presenting discs of peanut and raspberry ice cream sandwiched between sablé biscuits, she garnishes with fresh raspberries, crème fraiche, chunks of honeycomb and gold leaf. Ali confesses ‘I do like eating gold’ but Oliver calls it ‘quite a comforting pudding’ and Andi admits ‘it’s not very exciting is it?’

Having worked his way through the musical genres of grime, punk and heavy metal, Kray ends on a more romantic note with a dessert that celebrates the influence of Brian Ferry and, more specifically, the smell of his aftershave. Now this being the BBC, frustratingly we don’t get to learn what this charismatic fragrance is. However it certainly worked its magic on Paul Ainsworth who not only liked whatever was in the bottle, he was captivated by the finished dish. Kray creates a peach and Champagne soup, scented with sea fennel, apple marigold and rose syrup to accompany seared peaches, sorbet and a white chocolate and apple marigold mousse, adorned with edible flowers, a glittery sugar tuile and a white chocolate shard. It’s a huge hit with the judges too; Oliver says it’s ‘completely unique’ and adds ‘this is cutting edge British food’.

And so, despite Sabrina’s ‘consistent’ cooking, it’s Kray’s outstanding main course and dessert that propel him to the final. He listens soberly and intently as he’s advised to rethink his starter and fish dish, then outside the judging chamber he breaks into a happy cheeky chappy dance. Has he finished the week a wiser man? Undoubtedly. Will he change? I hope not!