Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - Finals Week

The Staff Canteen

The final eight kicked off the last week of the Great British Menu with a tense rally as they took to the kitchen to recreate their summery starters for the judges.

After visiting the All English Lawn Tennis Club to get a feel of what it would be like to serve their food the banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships, the Great British Menu contestants 2017 felt the heat when they returned to the Great British Menu kitchen.

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2017 here

First to serve was Phil Carmichael, of Berners Tavern restaurant, who is representing Wales. Phil was advised to change the oxheart tomato in his dish as it was too big. Unfortunately, his decision to switch it for a plumb tomato didn’t pay off. Matthew Fort said that there was a “sort of so what” feeling about it. Yikes!

Returning banquet champion, Tommy Banks, head chef at The Black Swan, failed to impress the judges with his refined tomato based dish. The judges said that the theatre of the dish, Midsummer – which was set alight at the table - failed to make up for the eating of it. Judge Andi Oliver said it looked like “a collection of said melon balls”. Dear me…

Tommy Banks' Midsummer, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Banks' Midsummer

Competition first timer, Ellis Barrie had impressed the judges with his self-taught skills during the regionals. His dish, Summer Is Icumen In combined seven different cucumber elements. It was presented in a picnic basket with a ninth century summer tune of the same name playing. The judges liked the refined picnic and Andi said it was “gastronomic”.

The last group included fish specialist Tom Brown, head chef at Outlaws at The Capital Hotel. Tom made big changes to his starter which was based solely on the ‘taste of summer’ brief. He changed the centrepiece of lobster in his cowl bisque to crab. He also added a velvety gazpacho instead of a tomato tea. The judges cooed over the rich soup.

Tom Brown, Great British Menu 2017
Tom Brown

Northern Ireland representative, Tommy Heaney, head chef at The Great House Hotel, made small changes to Rufus Keeps The Pigeons Away. Tommy switched a birds nest for a bowl to serve the pigeon and beetroot plate. The judges enjoyed the flavour of beetroot and the texture of the tender pigeon.

Last to the pass was Pip Lacey, head chef at Murano. Pip created her own version of minestrone soup titled Whatever The Weather. After scoring 10 points from Oliver during the regionals, Pip didn’t change anything. The judges lapped up the clear tomato consommé and tender multi coloured ravioli.

Pip Lacey, Great British Menu 2017
Pip Lacey

When the contestants were called back there was a tie between Tom Brown, Tommy Heaney and Pip. That meant that the judges had base choose the dish which would be served at the banquet based on which dish they thought was the most suitable for the event. After much deliberation it was Pip’s summery soup which won.

>>> Get the recipe for Pip's Whatever The Weather here

What an exciting start to the week! The chefs cook the fish course tonight to decide who wins the next place.

There were “sublime” successes and fishy failures for the Great British Menu contestants 2017 as they served the final fish course.

The Great British Menu judges were joined by Wimbledon legend Tim Henman last night for the second round of finals week as the Great British Menu contestants 2017 plated up.

It was another tense night as the Wimbledon banquet gets ever closer, especially for chef Tom Brown who is head chef at Michelin starred fish restaurant Outlaw’s at The Capital. Being in the top three for his starter Tom was determined to see his fish course, Soused Breal & Scrumpy, at the banquet.

The judges couldn’t have been more complementary about the fish pâté. Matthew Fort described it as “sublime” and Tim Henman loved black treacle soda bread. And he ate the whole dish.

Tommy Heaney, Pip Lacey and Tom Brown, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Heaney, Pip Lacey and Tom Brown

Another strong contender for the spot at the banquet was Michael Bremner’s Wimbledon Whites. The trout was topped with a potato tuille and piled high with greens to represent the tennis courts at Wimbledon. After coming in last place for his starter, Michael was hoping to see his fish course swim to banquet success.

Self-taught Ellis Barrie, representing the North West, was first to serve. After making a few changes to his dish, he really wanted to score “a few 10s” for his sea bass. Ellis hit an ace with his fish however the judges weren’t keen on the dehydrated seaweed which was deemed “chewy”.

Ellis Barrie, Great British Menu 2017
Ellis Barrie

The judges were excited when it was Pip Lacey’s turn to serve. The starter champion created a completely new dish after her fish course scored poorly in the regional heat. The trout dish, named First & Second Serve, consisted of a helping of salmon tartar and citrus cured trout presented under a small fishing net.

Unfortunately, Oliver said that the dish looked weird while Matthew had fun wearing the net as a hat. They thought that the course lacked flavour and was “exhausted.” The new creation sadly left Pip in eighth place during the judging.

In seventh place was Irish contender Tommy Heaney, who had been disappointed when serving his fish course. The judges said they found the dish slightly underwhelming. Returning contender Michael Bremner was left in sixth place after the sauce on his dish let him down. Fusion chef Selin Kiazim ranked sixth after the judges decided that her squid wasn’t quite refined enough for the banquet.

There was another draw as returning contestant Phil Carmichael and Ellis Barrie were placed joint third. That left Tom Brown and Tommy Banks, and it was a very close call. Tom scored 39 points but was just pipped to the post by Tommy, who was hailed fish course champion for the second year running.

Tommy Banks, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Banks

>>> Get Tommy's Turbot with Strawberries & Cream recipe here

With just two slots remaining the chefs are desperate to be hailed a Wimbledon champion. Who will be victorious with the main course tonight?

You could cut the tension with a knife in the Great British Menu kitchen last night as the chefs cooked for the chance to win one of the final places at the Wimbledon banquet.

The Great British Menu contestants 2017 were ready to play the match of their lives as they tried to win one of the final two places to cook at the banquet. And the judges, who have struggled to pick the winning dishes so far this week, were once again left with a tie break as they chose the main course winner.

There was heartbreak again for banquet champion Pip Lacey, head chef at Murano restaurant, when her dish Game, Set and Match Rufus was left in last place after failing to impress the judges. Pip, who received good feedback from the pigeon dish during the regionals, made changes to the course which the judges didn’t enjoy. The mini picnic basket which the pie had been served in had unfortunately been taken away.

There was a draw for sixth place between newcomer Tom Brown, head chef at Outlaw’s at The Capital and Welsh contestant Phil Carmichael, who was first to serve. Phil’s dish, Fired! Featured Welsh leg of lamb presented on a miniature barbecue. The judges liked the changes made to the dish, including swapping coleslaw for pickled cabbage. Oliver Peyton said that Phil should bottle his barbecue sauce and sell it!

Phil Carmichael, Great British Menu 2017
Phil Carmichael  

Tom Brown, who has been runner up for main course and his fish dish this week once again impressed with his cooking. He served beef rib in rich gravy with oysters and baby gem lettuce. The judges loved Tom’s flavours but had mixed reactions to certain elements of the dish and its suitability for the summer banquet. 

Banquet champion Tommy Banks was left in third place Champions Guard Of Honour didn’t receive the high praise which his other dishes have. Oliver said that Tommy had let his guard down as the gravy was too thin. Guest judge, Paralympic Gold Medalist Gordon Reid, said he was looking for more veggies on his plate.

There was, once again, a tie break during the judging as first time competitor Selin Kiazim, of Oklava restaurant drew with returning contender Michael Bremner. Selin’s dish, which featured lamb shoulder to be carved at the table, bowled over the judges: they loved the texture and flavour of the dish. They also appreciated her take on the famous Wimbledon Duchy sausage.

Michael Bremner, Great British Menu 2017
Michael Bremner 

>>> Get Michael's The Grass Is Greener recipe here

However, when the judges had to choose a winner, it was third time lucky for Michael Bremner’s dish The Grass Is Greener. He served ox tongue with ravioli and lots of summery vegetables. The judges were impressed with the cooking of Michael’s ox tongue and Matthew Fort said it was rare to find the meat so beautifully cooked.

With only one place left to claim tonight, the chefs will be entering the kitchen with all guns blazing.

That’s it! The judges have spoken for the final time and all of the courses have been chosen. But which dessert will be served at the Great British Menu Wimbledon banquet?

It’s been an emotional contest for the Great British Menu contestants 2017 and last night was no exception as the competition drew to a tense close. The judges, who were joined by former tennis pro and broadcaster Annabel Croft, had one more decision to make before the banquet menu was complete.

Contestants, Great British Menu 2017
Contestants, Great British Menu 2017

In eighth place was Heaney, head chef at Leceister’s Restaurant at The Great House Hotel. Tommy’s dessert, which featured edible chocolate balls, was a nod to the how the new balls at Wimbledon are kept at 20ºc. Although the dessert was a hit during the regional final, the judges thought that there was too much basil in it this time and that it tasted like pesto.

Welsh contestant Phil Carmichael, chef proprietor at Berners Tavern, placed seventh for his dessert which also featured an edible tennis ball. The judges liked the sweet however they thought it was too much of a gimmick and not classy enough for the Wimbledon banquet.

Phil Carmichael, Great British Menu 2017
Phil Carmichael

Competition newcomer Ellis Barrie created a completely new dessert for last night’s final named Fete Makes History. The complex dish featured elements of a coconut shy including a strawberry and cream parfait ball and a chocolate coconut shell filled with berry tea panna cotta.

Despite the theatrics of the dish and the style in which it arrived at the table it failed to hit the mark with the judges. They enjoyed the panna cotta but the toffee and candyfloss covered strawberries were a bit too messy. The dish put Ellis in fifth place for the dessert rankings.

Banquet champion Tommy Banks placed third for his dessert, Hay Time, in which he used flavours of hay – including spraying the dish with hay perfume – to create an unusual taste. The judges enjoyed the light hay custard and filo crisp on the top.

The Judges enjoying Tommy Banks' Hay Time, Great British Menu 2017
The Judges enjoying Tommy Banks' Hay Time

However, Matthew Fort thought that the dish looked boring once it was taken out of its wreath! Chef Tom Brown received high praise for his strawberries and cream dessert, Sevi & Leti, but placed second for the third time this week. He graciously accepted defeat once again and Oliver Peyton said he hopes to see the “outstanding and talented chef” in the competition again.

There was joy for Turkish-Cypriot fusion chef Selin Kiazim. Her brand new dessert which featured rose water, peach and strawberries won her the final place at the banquet. The judges loved it and said it would make the “perfect” end to the banquet.

Selin Kiazim, Great British Menu 2017
Selin Kiazim

Now that the competition is over, there’s nothing left to do but sit back and enjoy the banquet tonight! Will all the chefs be able to keep their cool and do their dishes proud?

What a finale! The final serve blew Great British Menu 2017 banquet diners away as the chefs plated up an incredible summer menu.

It has taken nine weeks to find the prefect menu but last night the Great British Menu 2017 contestants cooked dishes with ‘a taste of summer’ to tennis royalty, officials, the Great British Menu judges and family and friends.

The chefs were invited to take a look behind the scenes at the All England Lawn Tennis Club where the Wimbledon Championships take place by Master of Ceremonies, Dan Bloxham. Once they had a feel for the grandeur of Wimbledon Pip Lacey, Tommy Banks, Michael Bremner and Selin Kiazim, took to the kitchen, deep in the heart of centre court. They had a lot of preparation to do to scale up their dishes to serve diners including former tennis pro Tim Henman and Judy Murray.

Pip, of Murano restaurant, was first to serve after a visit from boss Angela Hartnett. The starter, Whatever The Weather, was her take on minestrone soup. There was drama when she thought that there may not be enough “tomato rain” (consommé) for all of the bowls of soup and that she had lost a tray of vegetables. Despite the hiccups the guests loved the dish, including the clever yellow ball presentation.

Great British Menu 2017

There was more stress during plating up of Tommy Banks’ dish, Turbot With Strawberries & Cream. The fish had to be cooked at the last minute and the chefs became out of sync when too many pieces were cooked for the prepared plates. Tommy put Pip in charge of the fish so he could help to plate up. Once the panic was over and the plates were out, the diners raved about the unusual course. Another success!

Michael Bremner, of 64 Degrees restaurant, had seven stages of ox tongue preparation to go through before serving his controversial main course. This was his third time in the competition and the first at the banquet; he was determined to plate up a perfect dish.

Michael’s jus filled ravioli proved to be tricky: the pasta had to be completely sealed so that the gravy didn’t leak. All of the plates went out with perfect pasta and the guests were wowed when they cut into the impressive dish which was served with a selection of vibrant vegetables.

Great British Menu 2017

Selin Kiazim, of Oklava restaurant, was last to the pass with dessert. While the guests enjoyed the first part of her dish, a glass of peach champagne, the chefs plated up the second part which included peach and raspberry muhallebis with sorbet. There was panic when slow service meant that the sorbet started to melt slightly, but the diners raved about the ‘slightly floral’ sweet once it arrived at the table.

Great British Menu 2017

With service finished Judy Murray gave a toast and welcomed the chefs into the banquet hall to rapturous applause. What a fantastic year it’s been on the Great British Menu 2017, well done chefs!

By Monica Turnbull

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull

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Editor 3rd July 2017

Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - Finals Week