Great British Menu 2021: Northern Ireland heat preview

Great British Menu 2021: Northern Ireland heat preview

by Great British Chefs 26 April 2021

Take a look at the chefs representing Northern Ireland in the 2021 edition of Great British Menu.

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Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

Paul Cunningham, Brunel’s, Newcastle, Northern Ireland


Returner Paul hails from Newcastle in Northern Ireland and is back for another shot at the competition. He was inspired from a very early age by his grandfather who always took him foraging and it’s this passion for local, seasonal, fresh produce which informs his ingredients-led cuisine today.

Self-taught Paul is head chef anddirector at Brunels, an award-winning restaurant in Newcastle, Northern Ireland. Local ingredients are the most important thing to Paul who sources about eighty percent of his produce from a thirty-mile radius of his restaurant. His cooking style is led by local and foraged ingredients – he champions strong, wild flavours underpinned by modern cookery techniques.

His menu reflects his locality and passion for pioneers in his region including Belfast-born Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s refloating of the SS Great Britain in Dundrum Bay.

Gemma Austin, Alexander’s, Holywood


28-year-old Gemma is Carryduff born and bred and ready for her first time in the GBM kitchen. She owes her love of food to her mother, who was a chef in a local Belfast restaurant.

Gemma went into cheffing aged twenty-one, taking her first job at Slims Kitchen on the Lisburn Road where she cut her teeth for a year while doing a Culinary Masters Course. For four years Gemma continued studying and working full-time at a variety of great establishments and rose through the ranks from commis chef to sous chef of a two AA Rosette kitchen. Gemma worked at the Fitzwilliam hotel in Belfast where she rose to head pastry chef, before moving to luxury hotel The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn where she worked all the sections and eventually became sous chef.

In 2019 she set up A Peculiar Tea which is a pop-up that does themed dinners, teas and events. She is also co-owner and executive chef of Alexander's in Holywood where she has been for over a year. Gemma loves bringing her imagination to dishes and will be drawing on this for the science and innovation brief this year.

Phelim O’Hagan, Brown Bonds Hill, Londonderry


Londonderry lad Phelim is very competitive and wants to keep Northern Ireland at the Banquet.

Phelim started out as a pot wash at the age of fourteen and has never looked back. As a chef he has worked at House which is the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Cliff House Hotel in Ireland, and then at Restaurant Andrew Fairley in Gleneagles. For the last six years, he has worked at Browns Bonds Hill in Londonderry as the head chef under chef patron and former GBM competitor Ian Orr.

Phelim would describe his cooking style as modern Irish using modern techniques with the best produce that Northern Ireland has to offer. His menu is inspired by the pride of scientific advances in his home country.

Andy Scollick, The Boat House, Bangor


27-year-old Andy is Bangor born and bred and the youngest competitor from Northern Ireland. Following in his father’s footsteps, Andy decided at a young age that he would train to be a chef. After a short stint at SERC studying Hospitality & Catering, Andy decided to concentrate full-time on cooking and started as a commis chef at The Salty Dog in Bangor, where he rose to the position of chef de partie. When his head chef Tim Brunton moved to take over the Boat House, Andy joined him as his sous chef. In 2019 Andy stepped up and took charge as head chef.

Andy is passionate about local produce and likes to create dishes that challenge people’s perceptions and expectations – he likes using techniques such as dehydration and spherification to intensify flavours and change textures.