Great British Menu 2023: Central England heat preview

Believe it or not, we're already into our final week of Great British Menu heats and it's time for four chefs from Central England to cook their hearts out. We take a look at who's taking part.

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.

Thom Bateman

Thrown into a head chef role at the age of eighteen, newcomer Thom hasn’t had the typical journey into becoming a chef.

He left the industry for ten years in 2009 - only to be reunited with his love of cooking when he started taking pictures of his dinner at home, garnering recognition across the internet. His food caught so much attention that he was awarded TSC 2021 Social Media Influencer of the Year.

Thom now owns The Flintlock at Cheddleton, the same restaurant he started out at aged seventeen. He has since transformed it into a fine dining restaurant, which received two AA rosettes in the first year of trading. His cooking style takes a fine dining approach, but with a modern take. He likes to be exciting and modern without being abstract. Nostalgia is a massive thing for Thom’s cooking. He loves to make new food memories for people, but to also be creative with things that people typically recognise.

Thom's menu celebrates his Stafford pride taking inspiration from Midland’s comic artist Dave Follows' strip, 'May un mar Lady.'

Marianne Lumb

Marianne Lumb is returning to the GBM kitchen after four years, having previously competed in Series thirteen, where she got all the way to the final. This time around she’s more determined than ever to grab the title.

Marianne’s food journey began early with her father being the village butcher. She enrolled in an architecture course at UCL, before deciding that cooking was where her true passion lay. She progressed through restaurants, to the Michelin starred Gravetye Manor, and then to become a private chef for high profile clients.

In 2013, Marianne opened London’s smallest fine dining restaurant, Restaurant Marianne, with only 14 covers, a 25 sq ft dining room and a team of three. In 2017, the restaurant came 33rd in the UK Good Food Guide Top 100, and was voted ‘Top Gastronomic experience in London’ by Harden’s guide.

After five years at the helm, Marianne returned to being a private chef, cooking and travelling in the UK, the Mediterranean, America and Australia. She is due to open her new Restaurant Pipistrelle in Leicestershire this year. Her culinary passions are for wild and rare ingredients, from British game to English truffles.

She is reimagining the Melton Mowbray pie in a playful take on 'Private Eye,' and will be taking inspiration from classic British animation 'The Magic Roundabout.'

Kareem Roberts

Born in Leicester and raised in the West Indies in Antigua, newcomer Kareem found his passion for cooking in his home kitchen.

Without much in the way of formal fine dining training in his younger years, he attributes his development as a chef to the foods and cultures he’s experienced.

Kareem first set foot into a professional kitchen aged twenty-six, and has worked his way up to his current position as Head Chef of Trinity in Cambridge.

The use of French culinary techniques, Indian spices and his West Indian palate is a key driving force behind Kareem’s food and creativity. He has a passion for taking cuts most others wouldn’t use, and elevating them to a restaurant worthy dish that he refers to as "refined Indian."

His dishes will be taking inspiration from British animation 'Fifi and the Flowertots.'

Tom Shepherd

Proud Brummie Tom may be a newcomer to the Great British Menu kitchen, but he’s no stranger to winning, having received an Acorn award in 2018 - which celebrates the top 30 under 30 within the hospitality industry. Having grown up watching GBM, Tom can’t wait to impress with his food.

Tom began his career at New Hall Hotel in Walmley, and worked as a sous chef with Michael Wignall at The Latymer (2*) before landing a job as Development chef at Restaurant Sat Baines (2*). His first head chef role was at Michelin-starred Adam's Restaurant in Birmingham. He stayed there for two and a half years, during which time he retained the restaurant's three AA Rosettes and Michelin star. Finally in 2021, he was able to open his own restaurant, Upstairs by Tom Shepherd, and received his own Michelin star just a few months later.

Tom describes his food style as a seasonal, modern interpretation of classic combinations, where the emphasis is on creating big flavour. He’s determined to hit the brief, and can’t wait to embrace the theatre of each dish.

For his Birmingham inspired menu, Tom will be playing homage to British created video game Pac-man 3, and Raymond Briggs' graphic novel 'Fungus the Bogeyman.'

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