Great British Menu 2015 blog by Katie Pathiaki: The Wales Heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th August 2015

Kicking off the third week of Great British Menu 2015, we meet three new contestants, the chefs from Wales. Oh, and one from London.

Joining us this week is youngster Adam Bannister, co-owner of Slice in Swansea, Stephen Gomes, an experimental chef who uses Welsh produce to reinvent classic Indian recipes, and Carl Fredricksen lookalike, Phil Carmichael, from the Berners Tavern in The London Edition Hotel. 

Great British Menu 2015He works alongside celebrity chef Jason Atherton; by god let us not forget that, and just in case we do, it will be mentioned thirty more times before the week is through. This week’s mentor came in the form of Great British Menu finalist and double Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge.

The idea that the WI love to grow their own veg seemed to crop up more than once, with both Phil, who we are again reminded works with Jason Atherton, and Stephen making a miniature growing environment – ‘The Allotment’ followed by similarly titled ‘The Greenhouse’.

Adam chose to create a picnic style starter, which I am fairly certain might be regulatory in this year’s GBM. The ‘Suckling Pig Nic’ starter looked more promising than last week’s burger Victoria sponges, though, as the chef recreated the classic scotch egg using pig’s head meat.

Everyone seemed to be hitting the brief through their presentations,
however Kerridge was visibly disappointed with the quality of food. Stephen, who toned down the spices in his dish, presented two chickpea dishes which was compared to ‘walking through mud’. Adam, who cooks with a whirlwind technique, managed to cut his eye on the corner of the oven during preparation.Great British Menu 2015

Old Scarface sprinted into first place, though, due to his ‘first class pastry’. Saying he ‘expected more’ from Michelin trained Phil’s jellied ham hock, the cocky chef’s expression changed like the wind as he was awarded a score below the frantic-style chef, Adam.

The fish course brought quite a surprise, as Tom Kerridge announced guest judge, Tom Aitkins who would be tasting some of the dishes for him. Tom K doesn’t eat shellfish, and that’s not part of his dramatic new weight loss technique, but unfortunately he is allergic to the stuff. The presence of this guest was quite pleasing, as the two Toms played good cop, bad cop, with the petrified chefs.

Adam’s ‘Salmon and Cucumber’ caused some concern, as Tom K thought using sliced, white bread for a WI banquet was ‘brave’, but Tom A snapped right back calling the sandwich inspired dish ‘foolish’. The two could only giggle during the preparation, though, as Adam swore like a trooper when he couldn’t operate the blowtorch. After all of that colourful vocabulary, Adam didn’t quite hit the mark as the dish lacked in presentation and the bread fell soggy under the weight of the moist salmon. Great British Menu 2015

As the fear rippled through Phil, he admitted that he would have steered clear from shellfish if he had known that the reinforcements would have been called in. But then, his Llanfair PG style title “LightlySmokedSeaBassMusslesCocklesLaverbread” wouldn’t have the same ring to it.

During the judging, the course was renamed anyway to ‘a lovely RESTAURANT dish’, emphasis on restaurant. Tom Aitkins, in the end, wasn’t the big, bad, chef Phil was expecting, as he walked away with the highest score even though his meal was ‘tepid’. After being criticised for not taking enough risks in his first, samey, dish, Stephen brings the fire with this dish. As Tom K tastes a morsel of Stephen’s spices, he goes red in the face and tries to hold his cool tough-guy composure, as the chef continues to explain his ‘Preserving Memories’ dish.

Inspired by his Indian mother, his English mother, and also the WI’s passion for preserving chutneys and jams. The presentation was spot on, however the mackerel contained little bones, and was also served cold, which saw Stephen stay in last place. With the main course approaching, it was obvious that the chefs really needed to push themselves. All three took inspiration from the WI’s ethos of ‘waste not want not’ which saw the chefs using everything they could to produce a lamb-tastic dish. Phil went as far to create a lamb consommé, which he was sure would set him above the rest and show him as the Michelin star trained chef he really is.Great British Menu 2015

After all, what else would you expect from a chef that works beside Jason Atherton? The only complaint was that the dish was a little bit dry, but overall Tom was impressed. This probably boded well for Phil as he was late to plate, but this didn’t reflect his score. Tom warned Phil if he kept him waiting for dessert though, points would be deducted. Maybe I should have tried that when I was younger and my dinner was late.
 Working in a flurry of his own stress once again, Adam had a bit too much on his plate. His hilariously titled ‘Jerusa-lamb’ dish was a classic faggot, and instead of using pork, Adam chose to spin the famous Welsh dish and cook with lamb liver, heart and breast. The faggots were seasoned well, which resounded in both the cut away adventures through a market, and in Tom’s judging.

Unfortunately though, as Adam took his eye off the (meat) ball during preparation, the lamb inside the faggot was criticised for being overcooked. Steve’s “5000 miles from Andhra” told the story of when the Derbyshire WI raised money for a town in India affected by draught. He infused a lamb curry with Trinidad scorpion chillis, in hope that Tom’s taste buds would be dull for the other chef’s meals. The presentation was fascinating; a model village with a ceramic well in the centre, containing the curry. A mini wooden hut held Stephen’s Idli but the CO2 used for presentation purposes only, turned the rice pancakes rock hard.

But all three managed to wing it, receiving some pretty good scores from Tom, who was probably sick of Lamb after three courses of the damn thing. Moving on to the dessert course, it was made very apparent that neither Adam nor Phil were pastry chefs, which Stephen, who was trailing behind on the scoreboard, was ecstatic about. Great British Menu 2015Out to impress, Stephen felt inspired to create a ‘Thank You in a Box’ for the ladies of the WI.

Experimenting with edible lavender soap, mango shampoo, a coconut lip balm ad a rose berry perfume infused with Grand Marnier, the idea was original and exciting. I almost thought he would snatch a place to see the judges with his confusing, interesting and imaginative gift box.

But after being showered with compliments, Tom gave a harsh score of five, sending Stephen home. The other two chefs ran around the kitchen like headless chickens, both resorting to a dish they knew well; Rhubarb and custard. Phil, and his dessert “WI Jammin’ at the Fete’ produced an uncooked rhubarb tart, and second-attempt almond cakes. Adam also poached some rhubarb for his ‘Sweet Force to be Reckoned With’, and attempted some pretty difficult pastry techniques for someone who isn’t a pastry chef. Tom, aka, Dr Seuss, told the camera; “There’s a lot going on, which means there’s a lot to go wrong”.

After over cooking his sponge, and caramelising his syrup, Adam served something that didn’t look like a dish fit for a banquet. So it’s bizarre that both of these disastrous dishes scored above the measly five that Stephen was awarded. By the time the judges were back in town, I was getting quite tired of Phil, who works with Jason Atherton you know, swanning around the kitchen acting as if he was the judge of the week.

Maybe if he had spent more time on his own dishes instead of tasting everyone else’s food and asking how the cooking is going, he would have been a strong contender.Great British Menu 2015 This week, Rosemary Bishton sat in as a guest judge. After being part of the WI for 40 years, and even winning an MBE for her services, she must really know her stuff. The starters went off a treat, Matt favoured Phil’s ‘neat’ allotment, whilst Oliver ogled over Adam’s picnic, calling the Scotch egg and sausage roll ‘a class apart’.

Both chefs had taken into consideration any feedback from Tom Kerridge, and it showed, within their new found calm composures. The judges all fell in agreement that Phil’s fish course was at restaurant standard, but they weren’t overly impressed with Adam’s presentation either, Prue even went as far as to call it ‘awful’! The mains took the same road, as Oliver commented that there was nothing ‘excellent’ about Phil’s dish, while contrastingly, Matt gazed into the consommé probably wishing he could tip the whole jug into his mouth.

Phil’s downfall came in the dessert, as the tart wasn’t cooked right again, and both Matt and Oliver seemed baffled about the point behind a puff pastry tasting ice cream. Prue and Matthew fell in love with Adam’s rhubarb jelly, and although the rest of the dish didn’t particularly ‘wow’ them, I reckon that was the tipping point. Ol’ Scarface had done it! He started as the underdog, took down his associate Manny and came up top. Let’s just hope he doesn’t bring his machine gun to the next round.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th August 2015

Great British Menu 2015 blog by Katie Pathiaki: The Wales Heat