BBC Two’s Great British Menu is back and, this year, it makes history as the Palace of Westminster opens its doors for the first televised banquet to be held in the historic House of Commons Members’ Dining Room.
In a bid to cook at this ultimate banquet, the competition reaches new highs in the kitchen as past record scores are equalled then smashed.
The regional heats see one newcomer achieve the highest mark ever given in the competition’s history.
This year, the chefs are competing to cook at the banquet in honour of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘Great Britons’.
At a time when British cuisine is respected and revered around the world, the chefs are challenged to create dishes which could be a fitting legacy to our Modern Elizabethan Age. In the year the country celebrated the Queen’s 90th birthday, the chefs have been inspired by the transformation in British food throughout her historic reign, and by the achievements of Her Majesty’s Great Britons.
These are ordinary, everyday people who have been recognised on the Queen’s birthday and New Year’s honours’ list over the years for their extraordinary achievements in different walks of life.
Some of these Great Britons have been given OBEs, CBEs, MBEs or the BEM for going above and beyond for their community, their charity or for their country. Others have won the highest military honour, the VC, or been given medals for gallantry for courage at home and overseas.
In the regional heats, the chefs’ dishes will be judged by eight competition veterans who are now among the most accomplished and successful chefs in the UK. They include Daniel Clifford, Simon Rogan, Phil Howard, Richard Corrigan, Michael O’Hare and Angela Hartnett.
The two chefs who are scored most highly by the veteran judges will then present their four-course menu to award-winning restaurant critic Matthew Fort; doyenne of British cookery, Prue Leith; and acclaimed restaurateur Oliver Peyton.
Each week the panel of three will be joined by a guest judge who has been feted in his or her field. They include award-winning food writers and critics as well as esteemed chefs and restaurateurs honoured for their services to the hospitality industry.
Together, with the Great British Menu judges, they will decide which chef will be the champion of their region, and worthy of potentially becoming an ambassador for contemporary British cuisine.
The eight regional winners will then compete in the National Finals for a chance to cook at the Great Britons Banquet at the Houses of Parliament.
“The chance to cook at the Palace of Westminster is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – it would be considered a crowning glory of any career. The competition this year is intense, the chefs sense how well they need to cook. As a result, the quality of the dishes produced is outstanding, world class.” Oliver Peyton, Judge, Great British Menu
“In the competition this year, we see some of the finest food we have ever seen. It is modern, original and delicious. The future of British food is secure; the future of British food is exciting.” Matthew Fort, Judge, Great British Menu
“The chefs are competing to cook for people who have gone above and beyond to help others or to help their country, and I think these Great Britons really inspired them. British cuisine has changed so much in my lifetime and also in the lifetime of the competition, and in this year’s competition the chefs never cease to astonish us by creating the most beautiful food.” Prue Leith, Judge, Great British Menu
“It is hard to believe the quality of cooking on the Great British Menu could get any better and yet this year’s chefs have taken the competition to a new level. They have remarkable talent and I’m sure viewers will be astounded by their fabulous creations for our honourable guests.” Adrian Padmore, Commissioning Editor BBC Daytime & Early Peak
The Competing Chefs:
• Michael Bremner, 64 Degrees, Brighton
• Adam Handling, Adam Handling, Caxton London
• Ally McGrath, Osso, Peebles
• Josh Eggleton, The Pony and Trap, Chew Magna
• Jude Kereama, Kota, Cornwall
• Chris Wheeler, Humphry’s at Stoke Park
• Adam Reid, The French at The Midland Hotel, Manchester
• Kim Woodward, The Savoy Grill, London
• Matt Worswick, Thornton Hall, The Wirral (Please note Matt is now at The Latymer, Pennyhill Park)
• Adam Bannister, Slice, Swansea
• Andrew Birch, Fishmore Hall, Ludlow
• Phil Carmichael, Berners Tavern, London
• Danny Gill, The Flitch of Bacon, Essex (please note Danny is now at The Bell at Coleby in Lincolnshire)
• Andrew Scott, Restaurant 56, Farringdon
• Daniel Smith, The Ingham Swan, Norfolk
• Russell Bateman, Colette’s at The Grove, Hertfordshire
• Mark Froydenlund, Marcus, The Berkeley Hotel, London
• Ronnie Murray, Hix Restaurants (Please note Ronnie is now at Peckham Manor)
• Chris Archer, The Cottage in the Wood, Cumbria
• Tommy Banks, The Black Swan at Oldstead, North Yorkshire
• Mini Patel, The Pointer, Buckinghamshire
• Mark Abbott, Midsummer House, Cambridge
• Eddie Attwell, Ardtara Country House (Please note Eddie is now at St Kyrans County Cavan, Eire)
• Chris McGowan, Wine & Brine, Country Armagh, NI
John Williams MBE, Executive Chef – The Ritz
The son of a Tyneside fisherman, John became Executive Chef at the Ritz in 2004. He regularly cooks at Royal events hosted at the Ritz including a banquet for 400 to celebrate the Queen’s birthday.
Tim Hayward, Award-winning food writer
Tim is a writer, broadcaster and since 2011, a restaurateur. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious Guild of Food writers, Food Journalist of the Year award, and has also been named the Fortnum and Mason Food Writer of the Year
Grace Dent, Restaurant critic
Grace is one of Britain’s most prominent restaurant critics. She writes a column called Grace and Flavour for the London Evening Standard. She also writes for The Independent and for magazines including Tatler and Marie Claire.
Amol Rajan, Food writer, restaurant critic & journalist
Born in Kolkata, Amol moved to Britain at the age of three. Amol credits his mother for his love of food, calling her the best cook he has ever come across. Amol joined The Independent newspaper in 2007 and was confirmed as Editor at Large when the paper went online in 2016. He is a restaurant critic for The Independent and for the London Evening Standard.
Lady Claire MacDonald, OBE, Award-winning cook and food writer
For over 40 years, Claire has run the award-winning and internationally renowned Michelin-starred Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye. Claire is also a food writer and has published 18 cookbooks over her career.
Enam Ali, MBE, Food Entrepreneur
Enam was born in Bangladesh but moved to the UK in 1974. He swapped a degree in law for a degree in Hospitality and Management. He went on to set up the award-winning restaurant Le Raj, The British Curry Awards and Spice Business Magazine.
Rosie Birkett, Food writer & journalist
Rosie is a food writer, stylist, journalist and author, who has been writing about chefs, restaurants and food since 2008. She has her own blog and YouTube channel, ‘A Lot On Her Plate’, and loves to follow current food trends.
Kevin Gould, Award-winning food writer
Kevin trained as a chef in Paris, then became a grocer, and then a restaurateur. He is now a food writer. He has been awarded the Guild of Food Writers, Food Writer of the Year and the Guild of Food Writers, Food and Travel Writer of the Year. Kevin writes for many newspapers and magazines and has also published two books about food.
GBM Veterans Judging The Chefs:
Tom Aikens, Tom’s Kitchen
Lisa Allen, Northcote
Daniel Clifford, Midsummer House, Cambridge. The Flitch of Bacon, Essex
Richard Corrigan, Corrigan’s Mayfair, London. Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, London. Virginia Park Lodge, Ireland
Michael O’Hare, The Man behind the Curtain, Leeds
Angela Hartnett, Murano, Café Murano, Merchant’s Tavern, Hartnett Holder & Co
Phil Howard, Sonny’s Kitchen, Kitchen W8 & The Ledbury
Simon Rogan, Fera at Claridges, L’Enclume, Cumbria , Rogan & Company, Cumbria, The French at the Midland Hotel & Mr Cooper’s House at the Midland Hotel
Michael Smith, Loch Bay Restaurant, Isle of Skye