Great British Menu 2016 blog by Jenna Lloyd - Wales heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th September 2016

Last night’s starters kicked off this week’s Great British Menu 2016 Welsh heat.

Judging the three chefs was American-born Michael Smith, chef proprietor of Loch Bay restaurant on the Isle of Skye. Returning to the competition were last year’s winner for Wales Adam Bannister and runner-up Phil Carmichael. Making his first appearance this year and hoping to beat both is Andrew Birch of Fishmore Hall Hotel.

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Adam’s starter was a reimagining of classic Welsh dish. A play on words, ‘On Cawl’ paid tribute to those working in the NHS – something close to Adam’s heart as his girlfriend and other family members are healthcare providers. A cawl is a Welsh soup with lamb and vegetables.

>>> There's plenty of lamb recipes here...

Adam set himself a real challenge with the lamb, serving pressed breast, crispy belly, cured loin, poached loin wrapped in mint. He made a Welsh cheese custard and a terrine of potato, swede and carrots.

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Presenting in a medical-themed box, Adam even served his lamb consommé in a syringe! Michael said that the very technical dish definitely told a story and delivered on flavour. He wasn’t sure if the cheese was a necessary addition though.

Phil Carmichael opted to create an Asian-inspired dish for his starter. ‘An Indian Love Affair’ was to represent the cultural Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heatdiversity of modern Britain and pay tribute to the much-loved curry.

Cooking quail, he deep fried the legs in bahji batter and roasted the bird’s
crown. Phil made his own mango chutney and pastry poppadum’s. He made a lentil and tomato sauce, inspired by traditional dahl and garnished with coriander shoots.

>>> Feeling inspired? Check out these quail recipes...

Michael loved the idea of Phil’s dish and said it had some big flavours - the spicing he called ‘spot-on’. He had however hoped that Phil’s poppadum’s had been served in a pile like in an Indian restaurant. He also found the quail to be a touch underdone and said that overall the presentation could have had more impact.

 Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Andrew Birch - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Newcomer Andrew Birch’s starter ‘21st Century Cauliflower Cheese’ featured a not-Welsh Tunsworth cheese from which he made a sauce with white wine and english truffle. He started to caramelise the cauliflower and the other chefs were a bit dubious about the colour.

>>> More cauliflower recipes here...

Making a last minute addition of apples, he served his cauliflower with panko breadcrumbs, a golden raisins and caper puree, chive oil, his cheese sauce and topped with grated truffle. Michael called the dish tasty and said that the cauliflower was the way he liked it but said that the raisins and apple weren’t strong enough and that overall it was underwhelming.

Andrew Birch - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Michael awarded Andrew a six, Phil a seven and Adam the highest score of eight. There’s still everything to play for as we head towards the fish course tonight though!

Reigning Welsh champion Adam Bannister was out in front after Monday’s first course. One point behind was last year’s regional runner up, Phil Carmichael. Newcomer Andrew Birch’s cauliflower cheese starter failed to impress judge Michael Smith and so he was in third place. Michael said that the fish course would be an opportunity for the chefs to showcase their technical ability.

Pea fondant - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Hoping to maintain the lead, Adam’s fish course was based on a convenience food favourite, ‘boil-in-a-bag’.  Inside the bag, ‘Captain Bannister’ was to serve turbot, inside a caper and crab stock sauce. He cooked these in a temperature-controlled water bath and served them in small pans for Michael and the other chefs to open at the table.

Accompanying the fish, Adam wanted to make a ‘pea fondant’. Similar in principle to the dessert, it would be made of flour, eggs, melted butter and pea puree with a liquid centre.  Also on Adam’s plate was crab meat, salty fingers, sea blite and crab sauce. The dish was presented in a novelty box.

>>> Want more turbot recipes? Click here...

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Fellow chef Andrew called Adam’s pea fondant “nearly inedible” and said it tasted too strongly of flour. Judge Michael told him to “throw it overboard” and added “it wasn’t correct in any way”. He did however feel the presentation was fun and called his turbot and sauce delicious.

 Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Phil’s dish would be a modern interpretation of prawn cocktail, celebrating how far British chefs have come. Like Matt Worswick from last week’s heat, Phil had opted to substitute the traditional prawn for a more luxury kind of seafood, langoustine.

>>> See more langoustine recipes here...

Putting an interesting twist on the dish, Phil made a hot Marie Rose sauce, combining cooked tomatoes with a classic hollandaise, then adding brandy and Worcester sauce. He braised baby gem lettuce and added a dash of chicken stock. Important additions to Phil’s dish were chive oil, which he extracted himself and brown sourdough wafers – a reimagining of the traditional croutons in a prawn cocktail. Phil garnished with fennel pollen and cayenne pepper.

Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Despite Michael’s criticism of Phil’s lack of theatrics in his presentation, Phil chose to continue serving his course on a simple white plate. Michael said the dish had flavour and innovation and that the langoustines were cooked to perfection – he just wanted more of them! Once again, the judge mentioned that food fit for the Banquet needs to show creativity and he said that Phil was “missing a trick” with the lack of visuals.


Andrew Birch - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heatFor Andrew’s fish course, he chose to cook plaice – a ‘plentiful’ fish that he believes is underused. Another seafood element, Andrew’s dish featured cockles as a tribute to the women of the Industrial Revolution, who harvested cockles when their husbands died or were no longer able to work. He also wanted to include traditional Welsh lava bread - a cooked seaweed.

>>> Feeling inspired? We've got plenty of plaice recipes! 

To accompany his fish, Andrew was making a risotto using the humble British potato instead of rice. He had spotted the recipe on a menu from last year’s veteran judge, Tom Kerridge. He also made a fennel salad and a malt vinegar gel in an attempt to elevate and refine the dish. Andrew also served on a plain white plate with a garnish of fennel pollen, dried lava bread, fennel cress and rapeseed oil. With the dish was a scroll, telling the story of The Ladies of Penclawdd.

Andrew Birch - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Michael said that it fit the brief perfectly but he felt Andrew too had missed an opportunity to be creative with his presentation. He called the plaice ‘spot on’ and said that the vinegar gel showed good innovation.

Andrew was awarded the highest score of this course, an eight. Phil and Adam were both given a seven which puts Phil and Andrew on a tie and Adam one point in front.

Judge Michael Smith won the Banquet with a main course so he had high standards for the Welsh chefs for this course.  

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Still in the lead, Adam Bannister was serving a ‘spitroast’ inspired main with wild boar saddle. To give it a smoky flavour, he cooked some of the boar on an indoor barbecue and cooked the belly in the water bath. He couldn’t get any boar cheek so he served the meat with slow-cooked pigs cheeks which he finished with Welsh whiskey.

To go with the meat, Adam made a hot ‘slaw’, with shredded charred cabbage, onion and carrots. He also created an apple and shallot puree and cooked celeriac in butter before rolling it into balls.

>>> Do more with celeriac with these recipes...

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu - Welsh heat

Adam served his main course on a wooden board, with the boar meat on a mini spit and the slaw and celeriac in a side bowl. His sauce was in a jug on the side. Michael felt that the boar was brilliant but was underwhelmed overall by the heaviness of the dish. He didn’t like the slaw and said it needed some acidity to cut through.


Phil Carmichael - quails eggs - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Phil Carmichael was to reinvent another British classic. A play on the Order of the British Empire, Phil’s ‘O.B.E’ was for onions, bacon and eggs. To make the ingredients more banquet-worthy, Phil cooked quails eggs three ways – poaching, frying and boiling. He made some into Scotch eggs, dipped some in maple syrup and rolled them in a bacon crumb. Others he wrapped in crispy smoked bacon.

>>> There's quite a few bacon recipes here...

Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

He braised pork cheeks in honey, cloves and madeira and made the onion into a smooth puree and a tuille. Judge Michael called it a “great reimagining”. He loved the different styles of egg and the flavour of the bacon but said it was more befitting of a Banquet starter than a main.

Andrew Birch - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Looking to overtake Phil was Andrew Birch, who was serving a contemporary interpretation of a classic British roast beef dinner. Andrew chose to serve Welsh wagyu beef, cooking it sous vide so as to keep the tenderness of the meat. Instead of the traditional horseradish accompaniment, Andrew made a wasabi sauce. He wanted his main to showcase the diversity of the British produce available today.

>>> Looking for more wagyu recipes? Click here...

He roasted potatoes in the wagyu fat, braised red cabbage in wine, port and aromatics and cooked three small Yorkshire puddings. Other vegetables for the course included salt-baked carrots and mashed swede. Andrew served these in small serving pots, intended as a “help yourself” sharing dish. Lastly, he added a bit of the beer that the Powys wagyu cows are fed to his gravy, and served a bottle of the beer with the dish. His gravy was served in a patriotic jug on the side.

Andrew Birch - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Judge Michael said that the vegetables had “stand out flavours” – he enjoyed the texture of the swede and the depth of the cabbage. He said that the beef however did not shine through, he found it a bit chewy.

For this dish, he only gave Andrew a six. He gave Adam a seven and Phil an eight. This puts The two returning chefs on equal scores and means Andrew is two points behind.

On Wednesday night Phil Carmichael got his first winning dish of the week and Andrew was knocked back down to third place. Currently tied, tensions were high for Phil and Adam as they were in the same position this time last year.

Judge Michael said that the dessert course was the chefs’ chance to finish the week with a bang.  

Andrew Birch - sheeps curd mousse - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Andrew Birch said that he was confident about his dish, ‘Honey and Lemon’. Hoping to highlight the importance of British bees and of preserving, the dish was to showcase the versatility of Welsh raw honey. Firstly, Andrew made a lemon gel – lemon thyme infused syrup, raw honey and lemon juice. He was hoping that these sweet and sour flavour combinations would impress judge Michael. He also made a mousse using sheep’s curd and a lemon granita which he set with dry ice.

>>> Looking for more lemon recipes? Click here...

Andrew poured a lemon infusion with thyme in a glass teapot. First onto his plate was the mousse, then an oat crumb, toasted oats, bee pollen, gel, fresh honeycomb and the lemon granita. The other two chefs commented that the mousse had split but Andrew defended it saying it was “the best you’re going to get” using sheep’s curd.

Andrew Birch - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Michael said that Andrew served too much biscuit crumb and felt that the main element of the Welsh honey did not shine through enough. He did add that the sheep’s curd mousse was interesting and the dry ice element was befitting of the Banquet.


Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heatPhil’s dessert ‘A Cup of Tea for Ma'am’ focussed on a rumour that the Queen’s favourite tea is Earl Grey. Phil chose to make a panna cotta (with earl-grey-infused cream) topped with orange prepared three ways. On the side, Phil wanted to make white and brown sugar cubes. The brown ones were made from cocoa nib shortbread, rolled in cinnamon sugar.

>>> Want more ways to use oranges? We've got you covered... 

The white cubes were supposed to be made from dehydrated milk foam but after two failed attempts at this process, he made the difficult decision to sacrifice this element of the dish.  Phil was criticised all week for his lack of visuals in his presentation. For this dessert, he served the panna cotta in little china teacups, topped with blowtorched orange segments, an orange gel and orange powder. His sugar cubes were served in a small bowl on the side.

Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Michael said that Phil’s panna cotta was delicate and his orange was refreshing. He still felt however that the presentation was too simple and that there wasn’t much originality in the dish.

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Adam Bannister had taken risks all week with his complex cooking techniques and his dish ‘Eton vs Harrow’ was no exception. Themed around the achievements of British sport and education, Adam explained the theory that the classic Eton Mess may have originated at an annual cricket game between Eton and Harrow. His reimagining of Eton Mess therefore was to be presented with a cricket theme. He made a cricket ball from meringue sprayed red, which he filled with a strawberry jelly, compressed strawberries and sweet basil.

>>>We've got lots of tasty strawberry recipes here...

Adam also made a clotted cream and gelatine mousse, which he tried to aerate but split as he put too much gas in the gun. With the dish, Adam placed a miniature cricket bat, into the handle of which he put strawberry sherbet. A fun presentation, diners were encouraged to crack the ‘ball’ meringue with the bat before eating it.

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Welsh heat

Michael Smith called this dish “stunningly original” and was impressed with the different strawberry elements featured. He did however mention the split cream and said it could have otherwise been a perfect dish.

Michael gave the final scores of eight a piece to Adam and Andrew and gave Phil a seven. This means that Adam had the highest score of the week, then Phil and Andrew was eliminated just one point behind.

We’ll be looking out for Andrew’s work in the future!

All week Adam Bannister created visually stunning dishes in fitting with the brief but he struggled with the cooking and was let down by some of the more technical elements of his menu. Phil Carmichael’s dishes have consistently delivered great flavour but he was criticised by veteran judge Michael Smith for a lack of flair in his presentation.

Joining the judges this week was food writer Rosie Birkett, who was looking for delicious food and innovative techniques.

Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

Taking a big gamble for the Wales Judging, Phil took Michael's advice and chose to swap his main course and his starter around. Now serving his ‘O.B.E’ as a starter – Phil would tweak the bacon and egg dish so as to make it smaller. He chose not to do the egg wrapped in bacon and served the smaller quantities in smaller bowls. Prue Leith called it an “elegant dish” but Oliver would have liked more onion.

Despite Michael telling Adam that the flavour combinations in his starter were too strong, Adam opted not to change any element of the dish. Oliver Peyton said that he had ‘shown a great deal of skill’ cooking the lamb in different ways. Rosie however called the cheese sauce ‘unpalatable’.

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

Adam’s fish course was let down by his risky take on a pea fondant last time. Because of this, he ditched the fondant completely and said he wouldn’t take the risk. The judges were very impressed with the combination of flavours in this course – Matthew Fort said that the sous vide cooking style had produced a perfect piece of fish.

Phil kept his fish course virtually the same apart from a small addition of fresh chives. Rosie felt that the langoustine was poached beautifully but overall, the dish lacked the acidity needed for a good balance.

Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

In Adam’s boar-based main dish, Michael found the slaw to be too heavy. Adam replaced this element for the judging with a celeriac remoulade, apple sauce and barbecued cabbage. These drastic changes would have impressed the panel, however the judges all agreed that Adam had oversmoked the boar. Oliver was particularly disappointed by this as he felt it was nice to see a boar dish.

>>> Click here for our top celeriac recipes...

To make his ‘Indian Love Affair’ a generous enough portion for a main course, Phil tried making onion bahjis for the first time. He also cooked his quail for a bit longer, remembering Michael’s comments earlier in the week. This time, Phil served his puppadoms in a paper bag – resembling takeaway packaging.

Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

Matthew was disappointed at the lack of colour for a dish paying tribute to Indian cuisine, but he did say the food had been done with sensitivity. Oliver found the paper bag ‘shocking’!

Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

Things were even closer as the dessert courses were prepared. Phil was particularly worried about his panna cotta and wasn’t sure if they’d set in time. Matthew called them “the right side of creaminess” and Rosie called his shortbread sugar cubes “inspired”.

>>> More panna cotta recipes here...

Not wanting to take another risk, Adam decided to replace his aerated cream with a whipped one. He also made his meringue shells thinner so he could fit more filling in and added fresh strawberries to the mix. It was very tense when one of Adam’s meringues broke but luckily he had made spares so all was not lost! All of the judges praised the innovation of Adam’s reinvention of Eton Mess and thought it was fun.

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

The judges found it very difficult to come to a decision – they even went as far as to say there was “a sprinkling of tens and an abundance of nines”!

Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

Adam Bannister - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales judging

In the end however, they chose Phil to go on to the final – calling his starter ‘inspired’. Adam’s dessert scored very highly too though and the two shared a beverage after a very tough judging!

 Adam Bannister and Phil Carmichael - Great British Menu 2016 - Wales Judging

>>>Read our interviews with the Welsh chefs here...

 >>> Read more about Great British Menu 2016 here



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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th September 2016

Great British Menu 2016 blog by Jenna Lloyd - Wales heat