Great British Menu 2023: London and South East heat preview

Find out more about the chefs competing in the London and South East heat of Great British Menu 2023.

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.

Budgie Montoya

Budgie Montoya
Budgie Montoya

Born in the Philippines, Chef Ferdinand ‘Budgie’ Montoya was raised in Sydney, Australia, where cooking had always been a side hobby to his career in IT. It wasn’t until his late twenties, whilst on a trip to London in 2009, that he questioned whether he should swap computers for pans.

Following his move to London in 2012, Budgie finally took the plunge to pursue cooking professionally, landing positions such as commis chef at Dean Street Townhouse, and demi chef de partie at Restaurant Story.

In late 2016, he started a supper club - Sarap - as a chance to be more creative, learn more about Filipino food and reconnect with his culture. From there he did a pop up at the Sun & 13 Cantons in Soho 2019, and later moved on to opening his first pop up Sarap location in January 2020.

Budgie describes his cooking as simple and elegant - with a Filipino soul and a London heart. His cooking is deeply influenced by Filipino cuisine and pays homage to his origins. He often adapts his dishes from traditional recipes, or uses traditional ingredients to keep that connection.

Budgie wishes to champion Filipino cuisine in his GBM dishes, inspired by Horrid Henry and Winnie the Pooh.

Avinash (Avi) Shashidhara

For Indian born Avinash Shashidhara, food was always an important part of his upbringing. Having been raised around markets and his dad’s farm, Avi was bitten by the cooking bug from a young age. After leaving India to perfect his cooking in the UK, Avi worked his way through restaurants including Claude Bosi’s two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus, and spent a decade working at The River Café. In 2020 he decided to take the plunge and open Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai in Fitzrovia. Here he serves Indian dishes inspired by traditional recipes, and has a Michelin Bib Gourmand 2022 plate.

Avi describes his cooking as regional, seasonal, produce-led dishes which blend ultra-traditional family recipes with high quality British and European ingredients. He wants to change the perception of Indian curry houses being about cheap cuts, greasy food and extreme spice.

His competition menu sees him look to The Gruffalo and Fantastic Mr. Fox animations for inspiration.


Robbie Lorraine

Returner Robbie competed in last year’s GBM, and impressed with his creative dishes. While he didn’t make it past the fish course, this year he hopes to take his unique style all the way to the Banquet. Having learnt to cook with his nan, he brings warmth and nostalgia to his relationship with food.

Robbie has over two decades of catering experience honed in diverse kitchen environments, including fine dining restaurants and high-end event catering like Roux Fine Dining and The Royal Ascot.

In 2020, Robbie launched ‘Only Food and Courses’ - his own pop up concept restaurant in Brixton, with a vision to disrupt expectations of fine dining. Following rave reviews, he has since taken his restaurant to a fixed site at the Cheshire Cheese pub on the Strand. Robbie is renowned for his highly creative menus based on eighties and nineties nostalgia, offering dishes such as his take on a Pop Tart, crab scotch eggs and lobster doughnuts.

Hoping to bring some of that imaginative flair to his menu, he will be taking inspiration from British animation including Captain Pugwash and Fifi and The Flowertots.

Brian Danclair

Newcomer to the competition is seasoned restaurateur and talented chef Brian Danclair, who opened Fish, Wings and Tings in 2012 - his Caribbean restaurant offering an array of curries and jerk foods, in the heart of Brixton.

Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, Brian got his passion for cooking from his grandparents who raised him. Residing near beaches and rivers, he would often catch and prepare his own food. Brian’s grandmother taught him that food brought people together to create community - an ethos he has carried through his own cooking, using locally sourced ingredients from Brixton Market.

Having left Trinidad at the age of nineteen, Brian managed to travel and gain experience working with, and for, a myriad of chefs in Washington D.C. In 2000, Brian’s journey led to him to London, where he began working at the Ritz and the Connaught, before opening up his own catering business cooking for prime ministers and presidents of the Caribbean. Following the success of his first restaurant, Brian went on to open Danclair’s Kitchen in August 2021 - a more refined, Caribbean tapas style place.

In the GBM competition he wants to draw upon his fine dining skills to elevate his food, taking inspiration from Pingu and The Clangers in his menu.

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