Great British Menu 2015 blog by Katie Pathiaki: Central Heat

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And so onto the last week of the regional rounds of Great British Menu 2015!

Next week we find out who will be cooking at the banquet celebrating the centenary of the Women’s Institute. And who better to judge the central heat than the man himself, third time GBM champion, Richard Corrigan, who is known for telling it how it is.

Great British Menu 2015Richard Bainbridge, who was here on his fourth appearance, was pretty much greeted with “the last microwave sponge that was served to me on GBM I threw in the bin” after explaining the parsley and hazelnut sponge element of his starter would be cooked in the microwave.

This year, expectations were high, and fortunately the microwave sponge was a success, alongside the ‘beautifully cooked’ lamb loin, pearl barley and this year’s favourite veg, Jerusalem artichoke. Although, serving the meal in cold bowls was ‘unforgivable’ in Richard’s eyes, meaning for the rest of the week everyone was on plate-watch. Also recognisable from last year, Jason Hodnett who straight-off-the-bat of this series was remembered for crying when his dessert failed to impress. Re-creating his ‘Mum’s Chicken Stew’, Jason used the whole of the chicken to exercise the WI’s waste-not ethos.

The ballotine, made from leg and thigh meat, was served at room temperature which the chefs found surprising, and Richard found fault in the fact that “mum’s chicken stew” didn’t actually taste like a chicken stew, especially after the food had gone tepid after ten minutes wait to the pass. Newcomer Pip Lacey had advice from her boss Angela Hartnett when creating her dish, who we Great British Menu 2015went to visit during the cutaway to watch her receive a slightly awkward kiss on the forehead. Her starter, “Wine, Deer?” sounded right up my street, though. Parsnip wine puree and parsnip wine on the side of a carpaccio of venison and chicken sausages is what dreams are made of, and the scoring resembled that, putting Pip into the lead.

Opening the fish course with a philosophical statement about how “fish doesn’t need love”, Richard was expecting to see some dishes fit for the banquet, but instead was served what tasted like “a cod liver oil tablet” from the extremely brave Jason who cooked up some monkfish liver. His style of presentation did impress, however, serving the dish in famous WI member Adelaide Hoodless’ book was “one of the most beautiful ways of presenting a dish on this competition for a long time” Richard thought, and his baked potato ice cream worked well with the dish, but judging by his face when he tried it… he wasn’t sold on the monkfish.

Pip’s fish dish was inspired by watching her grandma over season her fish, which funnily enough turned out to be under seasoned when served to Richard. Her delicate salted haddock, fortunately, was still complimented even after getting too hot during the woodchip smoking where it started to cook, and the cucumber vinegar was a great addition. Great British Menu 2015Taking full inspiration from the brief, Richard researched Lady Denman, the first National Chairman of the WI. After three different attempts at the competition, Richard’s tactics of going back to basics worked well for him.

His ‘For Home and Country’ nabbed the highest score of the round, as the effort he went through with his presentation “showed real spirit” and the plum and pickled cucumber really stood out on the plate. The main course saw the first 10s of the central heat. Both Richard and Pip impressed with their innovative ideas that showed they really understood the brief. Top marks should have gone to Jason too, though, for his bold spirit. His ‘Deer in the Woods’ served venison with everything a deer would eat, too.

Richard was amazed by the flavour and presentational value of cooking two kinds of moss, but the venison was overcooked. Initially, Pip’s ‘Can Cook’ rabbit stew saw a lot of strange looks darted across the kitchen; the thought of cooking their own meals was either going to be a lot of fun, or a lot of bother. Poor Richard Corrigan had to put his glasses on just to read the instructions! But it was a hit, the offal was cooked perfectly, and the beignet was warm and mustardy, even the potatoes which were cooked in the godforsaken microwave went down well, and she was awarded a well-deserved 10.Great British Menu 2015 The next perfect score went to Richard for his, again, well researched dish.

Maybe his mum joining the WI was a big step in the right direction, as this was the great dish Richard had been expecting to judge all week. ‘Betty in the Henhouse’ was a visual dish, presenting de-boned and stuffed poussins underneath an individual egg. Although the dish was very simple, Richard was playing to his strengths again, which gained him the high mark. For a man who came in stating “I’m not a pastry chef” from the offset, Richard was the one to walk away with another 10 for his boozy and traditional dessert.

‘Inspiring Women’ tugged at all of our heartstrings, as Richard explained how much this meal really meant to him. He went to visit the Golden Triangle Girls at a local pub, and let them taste test his Victoria sponge cocktail, which they managed to get all over their faces. Thankfully, Richard Corrigan didn’t have the problem of a buttermilk moustache, as the shot glasses were a pub exclusive. The trifles, which were covered by home-made fete tents, ‘evoked memories of childhood’ and Richard couldn’t praise him enough. Great British Menu 2015

“Is It a Scone or is it a Scone?’ I hope it’s a dessert…” ever the optimist Richard was absolutely heartbroken when Pip ripped apart scones to make them into a puree and a chiboust, accompanied by a very fiery ginger tea. Giving her the lowest score of her week, Richard would have preferred a plain and simple scone and cream. ‘Decoupage Egg and Toast’ was by far Jason’s most exciting meal for me.

I eat some sort of dippy eggs every morning, so to see a custard ball burst when a piece of pastry toast was dipped in to it was magical. After a couple of attempts at making his ice cream, Jason delivered another brave dish with an amazing lady grey tea gel, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in the competition. Teaming up with Helen Carey, former chair of the WI, the judges were happy to see Richard again, especially after his starter opened the show with a chorus of Jerusalem to set the tone.

Remembering to put his plates in the oven this time, they all enjoyed the microwave sponge that Richard Corrigan was worried about at the beginning of this week! Pip’s starter had Matthew asking wondering if he had “just wandered into Sherwood forest” through the quirky presentation, however all of the judges felt that the meal wasn’t fit for a banquet; a large plate of raw meat which Oliver thought didn’t have flavour, wouldn’t go down well with the ladies of the WI.Great British Menu 2015 Off the back of his excellent starter, Richard overcooked the trout for his fish course, which all of the judges seemed to pick up on, saying the smoky flavour was all they could taste in the dish.

Pip’s smoked fish probably wasn’t the best meal to follow, however the fish was perfectly cooked even though Richard wasn’t too keen on the deep fried hotpot, Pip stuck to her guns, and the judges enjoyed it. The main courses saw a battle of the perfect dishes. Confident Pip started the fight talk before the cooking even started by saying “I do honestly believe my main is better than yours”.

Which wasn’t necessarily true, as both of the chefs got similar responses for their meals. Both of the presentations impressed the judges; Pips cooking showed a great level of skill, whereas Oliver cooed over Richard’s gravy and stuffing. Great British Menu 2015Pip made some slight changes to her dessert, however it wasn’t enough to get her through to the next round. The extra scone on the side of the teacup was dry, and Prue went as far to call her chiboust ‘horrid’. Richard’s dessert was welcomed with a chorus of “wow”s, and Matthew sounded surprised about the cocktail actually tasting of Victoria sponge.

The trifle was praised as perfect, and Helen thought that dish would go down very well at a banquet. Well we will see if it does next week where Richard will battle it out with the rest of the finalists.

If you've missed any GBM this series then catch up with our insights into the chefs and previous blogs here

>>>Read more about Great British Menu 2015 here

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Editor 5th October 2015

Great British Menu 2015 blog by Katie Pathiaki: Central Heat