Great British Menu 2022: Central heat preview

by Great British Chefs 24 January 2022

Get to know a little more about the chefs competing in the first regional heat of Great British Menu 2022, representing the Central region.

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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 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.

Sally Abe, The Pem, London

Originally from Mansfield in Nottingham, Sally is the chef consultant at The Pem Restaurant in the Conrad London Hotel in St. James’s. After studying Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts in Sheffield, Sally worked at The Savoy and then Claridge’s before she began a formative five years under Brett Graham at two-Michelin-starred The Ledbury. In 2017 Sally took the reigns as head chef of The Harwood Arms in Fulham (after a few years working at Great British Chefs as a recipe editor!) where she developed a loyal team and maintained its Michelin star rating.

Sally opened The Pem in July 2021, the restaurant name inspired by Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, whose family used the pet name ‘Pem’ for her and celebrates generations of pioneering women leading from the front. Sally was also named SquareMeal’s Female Chef of the Year in 2021.

Sally’s style of cooking is British, seasonal, with a touch of elegance and a fondness for game. Her personal menu celebrates local produce and champions some of the UK’s most iconic programmes and landmark events.

Ben Orpwood, Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsay, London

Cambridge-born Ben began his career at Queens College, Cambridge under Hans Schwietzer. His love of Asian cuisine has seen him spend a large part of his career cooking
in Australia and Asia. He worked at Zuma in London, Istanbul, Dubai, and Toko in Sydney.

Ben was tempted back to the UK with an opportunity to head up a new restaurant, Sexy Fish, that went on to gain great acclaim, which was down to Ben’s innovative menu and vision. The opportunity to work with Gordon Ramsay to develop a restaurant based on Asian cuisine arose for Ben and it has been the greatest milestone in Ben’s career to date. Ben has been Executive Chef at Lucky Cat for the past three years.

Ben would describe his food style as Asian influenced, pushing the boundaries of fine dining Asian food. Ben’s menu for the competition is innovative, adventurous and celebrates some of British TV’s best moments, including the iconic Fanny Cradock.

Liam Dillon, The Boat Inn, Lichfield

Lichfield lad Liam is very proud of his origins and very competitive. His love of food goes back to spending evenings with his nana, making stews and baking while his parents both worked all hours to grow their own business.

Liam has worked in some of the UK’s top kitchens such as Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, Five Fields in Chelsea and Story by Tom Sellers in Bermondsey, London. He also travelled the world with stints at Quay in Sydney, Noma in Copenhagen and at Eleven Madison Park and Gilt in New York. In 2017, Liam returned to his hometown of Lichfield as chef-owner of The Boat Inn. Since then, he and his family have worked endlessly to convert the tired roadside pub into an award-winning modern British restaurant, which is now Michelin recommended and the only restaurant in Staffordshire to hold 3 AA rosettes. Liam’s menu for the competition is creative, innovative and pays homage to iconic British television and radio programming.

Harvey Perttola, Restaurant Six, Nottingham

Originally from Nottingham, Harvey is the new head chef at Restaurant Six at the Trent Bridge cricket ground, first set up by Great British Menu alumnus Tom Sellers. Harvey’s career in food started at the tender age of fourteen when he was an apprentice chef at Opus in Birmingham, before moving to work at Hampton Manor. He was also Birmingham’s youngest head chef at the age of twenty-four at Maribel Restaurant and was runner up in the 2017 Chef Stagiaire, as well as a finalist in the
2018 British Culinary Federation’s Young Chef of the Year.

Harvey used to run Hill 101 with his fiancé and has, since filming, moved to Restaurant Six at Trent Bridge. Harvey would describe his food as Modern British combined with classical French. He is inspired by his Punjabi background and he likes to use spices where he can within his dishes, giving a nod to his family and Birmingham’s curry culture. Harvey’s menu for the competition has a strong focus on programmes from Birmingham, celebrating the plethora of shows that are based or made there.