Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - London/South East heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th May 2017

The Great British Menu 2017 returned to TV with a double serving as chefs began the battle to show off their culinary skills at a banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships.

Episode one saw Great British Menu chefs from London and the South East enter the kitchen. They were Michelin-starred Tom Kemble, of Bonham’s Restaurant, who earned his first star within 10 months of joining the prestigious restaurant kitchen.

Also joining him was Michel Roux Junior’s protégé Mike Reid, who is executive chef at M Restaurants and former executive chef of the international chain Gaucho Group, and Selin Kiazim, who worked for Peter Gordon at his restaurant The Providores and now runs her own Turkish-Cypriot restaurant, Oklava.

Tom Kemble, Great British Menu 2017 starter, Marbella Memories
Tom Kemble: Marbella Memories

The contestants were introduced to the brief of the competition: to capture the taste of summer and the prestige of Wimbledon.

They were then tasked with creating a starter.

Tom made a tomato gazpacho with crab, dill flower and mustard ice cream and brioche croutons which he affectionately labelled Marbella Memories in homage to holidays in the Spanish resort with his nan. Unfortunately for Tom, when he presented his dish to Angela and the chefs, he forgot the croutons.

>>> Related: See recipes from Tom Kemble here 

Selin wanted to impress with a Turkish Cypriot dish called Queue-cumber which was her very unusual twist on cucumber sandwiches. She served a borek stuffed with Tulum cheese. Angela said there was “a lot going on”.

Great British Menu 2017 contestants Tom Kemble and Mike Reid try Selin Kiazim
Tom Kemble and Mike Reid try Selin Kiazim's dish

Mike plated last with his dish, named A Summer Meadow, which comprised variations of courgette: pickled, fermented and puree dressed with herbs and edible daisies and buttermilk snow. It was all served inside a TV. Mike called the dish “summer on a plate”, Angela said it was essentially “all courgettes”.

At the end of episode one, it was a close call as Angela awarded Tom seven points, saying that his gazpacho was “too simple” for the banquet. Selin was given seven points as her dish was too garlicy, and Mike took the lead by one point, being awarded eight, as Angela said presenting the dish in a TV wasn’t practical, but she liked his pickled limes.

The competition heated up as the chefs headed into episode two, to cook a fish dish.

Selin said she aimed to stick to her plan and execute her fishy offering as best she could. Mike, meanwhile, took a much more obscure approach by pairing his amberjack with strawberries, cream and white chocolate. Strange? Judge Angela Hartnett thought so too.

Great British Menu 2017 contestant Mike Reid's amberjack with strawberries, cream and white chocolate
Mike Reid's amberjack with strawberries, cream and white chocolate

Mike’s dish, in tribute to the Wimbledon Championships, saw the fish cured in citrus and served with aerated white chocolate, strawberries and caviar. Angela proclaimed that he was using “wild flavours”.

And after being criticised for confusing flavours in her starter, Selin wanted to impress with an ace fish dish in honour of two Wimbledon champions, Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer, inventively named Nadal vs Federer. It comprised octopus and a potato rosti with a green chilli relish.

Michelin-starred Tom Kemble was teased by the other chefs who joked, “so Tom, you’re not going to forget anything today?”

Angela said she wanted to see “light summery plates of food” and Tom aimed to do that with a dish called It’s No Picnic, inspired by “terrible childhood picnics”. He served poached trout with cucumber beurre blanc, crushed cucumber, sorrel and English caviar. Certainly not a traditional picnic.

Great British Menu 2017 contestant Selin Kiazim makes her potato rosti
Selin Kiazim makes her potato rosti

When it came to presenting the dishes two of the contestants went wild and whacky.

Mike created a strawberry Bellini in a champagne flute, then in another dish layered his fish in another dish and topped with the other elements – including the aerated white chocolate. The whacky part came when he placed it all in a Wimbledon usher’s box to present it to Angela and the chefs.

The chefs decided that guests at the banquet would find the dish “very strange”, and unfortunately the white chocolate disintegrated.

Selin plated her Nadal vs Federer dish next: grape puree with octopus, asparagus and potato rosti. Angela was disappointed with her tardiness in taking the dish (in a presentation box displaying the Nadal vs Federer final) to the pass. Disappointingly for Selin, the dish was judged a little salty and some of the flavours didn’t come through.

Tom served his dish last, in a much more traditional style (no tricks here). He topped the trout with caviar, accompanied by a jug of cucumber beurre blanc. Tom was pleased with the cooking of his fish, while the chefs said it was very rich due to being cooked in “a tonne of butter”.

>>> Related: Trout recipes

After judging, Angela gave Tom seven points, saying that diners wouldn’t look at the plate and understand the brief. Mike was given six and Selin took the crown with eight points.

Two courses down, Selin is leading with 15 points while Mike and Tom have 14 each. None of the chefs want to go on Thursday, but there’s still main course and dessert to cook before the judges decide.

Main course was a smoking affair for the Great British Menu chefs in the London and the South East heat of the Great British Menu as the contestants served up summer barbeque inspired dishes.

Veteran judge and Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett was treated to variations of lamb and barbequed beef by the talented competitors battling it out to for the chance to cook at a banquet honouring 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships.

Michelin-starred Tom Kemble, of Bonham’s restaurant, served up a refined barbeque dish, curiously, without the barbeque. He aimed to meet the brief – a taste of summer – by smoking his lamb with juniper berries. Judge Angela said it was all getting a little too smoky for her!

Great British Menu 2017 contestant Tom Kemble's main of smoked lamb
Tom Kemble's smoked lamb 

Meanwhile Selin, who specialises in Turkish Cypriot fusion flavours at her restaurant, Oklava, prepared a summer banquet which she cleverly labelled Grand Slam Lamb. Selin, who came out with the most points (15) after the first courses made her own version of the special Wimbledon Dutchee sausage. Unsure whether it would be a hit at the banquet - as they originated in the Netherlands - Selin was praised for her spicy sausage.

Mike Reid, Michel Roux Junior’s protégé chef, created a dish in honour of 1987 Wimbledon champion, Australian tennis player, Pat Cash, which he named Pat’s Barbeque. Mike served prised Waygu beef with citrus cured, red Sicilian prawns to create his own version of surf and turf.

After being ribbed by the other chefs for smoking, and not barbequing his lamb, Tom was praised by Angela for his “lovely plate of food”, though she said he still needs to work on telling a story through his dishes. She even declared that his lamb had the “wow factor” which would impress at the banquet. Wow indeed.

Comically Mike topped off his high-protein beef affair by donning a bandana, a la his dish’s namesake, Pat Cash. Angela said that the prop was genius, though disappointingly his Waygu beef was not, as it was lacking in barbeque flavour.

mike reid, great british menu 2017 contestant
Mike Reid's Great British Menu 2017 dish 

Selin’s barbeque banquet impressed the six-time Great British Menu judge. She said: “you could definitely see that at a banquet”. The only issue she found with the dish was the technique of cooking a lamb should on a barbeque, which she said isn’t, perhaps, the best way to cook the meat.

Overall it was Tom who took the top marks in the main course round, earning a hearty nine points. Mike and Selin were both awarded eight. That means that Selin and Tom are in joint first place with 23 points going into Thursday’s dessert round, while Mike follows closely with 22.

Let’s see what sumptuous summer sweets they whip up to try and earn their place in Friday’s semi-final!

It was all white on the night for two of the Great British Menu chefs in last night’s dessert round of the London and the South East heat of the Great British Menu.

The contestants, who are battling it out to for the chance to cook at a lavish banquet to celebrate 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships, were inspired by the white outfits which tennis players wear at the competition, and created three beautiful, sweet offerings for six-time veteran judge Angela Hartnett.

Mike Reid presenting dessert to Angela Hartnett, Selin Kiazim, and Tom Kemble on Great British Menu 2017
Mike Reid presenting his dessert

Michelin-starred Tom Kemble, of Bonhams Restaurant, London, created his own twist on the classic Wimbledon dish of strawberries and cream, instead using raspberries. The technical dessert proved tricky for the chef – who has had a couple of hairy moments so far in the competition - as his show-stopping sourdough tuiles cracked in the oven. Thankfully he thought ahead and froze his elderflower sorbet quenelles. Imagine if they’d melted too? What a dessert disaster that would have been…

Turkish Cypriot fusion chef, Selin Kiazim, who runs Oklava restaurant, London, favoured girl power in her dessert by taking inspiration from the female champions of Wimbledon, in a dish named Ladies in White. The offering, which included cream cheese and strawberry spheres wrapped in kadaif pastry, came complete with a strawberry Bellini and personalised note for each diner. Fancy.

Selin talking about her dessert with Angela Hartnett on Great British Menu 2017
Selin talking about her dessert with Angela Hartnett

Mike Reid, a protégé of Michel-Roux Junior, aimed to pull off an ace dessert, which he labelled Wimbledon Whites. The fruity pudding contained smoked mango, coconut and a milk crumb, yet despite its tropical flavours and pretty presentation, failed to wow the other contestants and Michelin-starred chef, Angela.

When the scores came in, it was Tom and Selin who were hailed pudding heroes and sent through to tonight’s final. Tom received nine points for his “refined” dessert, which took his total to 32 and automatically sent him straight through to see the judges.

Tom Kemble's dessert on Great British Menu 2017
Tom Kemble's dessert 'From The Hedgerows'

Selin was criticised for an overpowering flavour of pistachio in her dessert but praised for the deep fried kadaif, and was given eight points, giving her a total of 31, which means that she will also cook for the judges.

Unfortunately, creative chef, Mike was sent home. His Wimbledon Whites dessert was too saccharin for Angela, although she did like the smoked mango and yuzu.

Tonight, Tom and Selin will have to cook their entire menu again for judges Oliver Peyton, Matthew Fort and for the first time, broadcaster and restaurateur Andi Oliver, but who will be victorious?

The Great British Menu judges have spoken and picked their first national finalist after an action-packed opening week of the Great British Menu 2017.

Restaurateur Oliver Peyton OBE and food writer and critic Matthew Fort returned to the small screen to judge the Great British Menu chefs’ dishes. They were joined by food broadcaster Andi Oliver, as well as guest judge Leon Smith, a Davis Cup captain and Andy Murray’s former trainer. He proved to be as tough a critic off the court, as on.

The judges were treated to the dishes designed by London and the South East competitors Selin Kiazim, of Oklava restaurant, London, and Tom Kemble, of Bonhams restaurant, London, who battled it out for the chance to cook at a lavish banquet honouring 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships.

judges Great British Menu 2017
The judges Great British Menu 2017

The judges, who had mixed reviews on their cooking, found it difficult to choose between the two, to decide who should go through to the national final.

Selin was first to serve her starter Queue-cucumber. Oliver Peyton painted a vivid picture of the dish, saying: “there are a lot of nice things going on here but it’s like a sort of child who’s been left unrestrained in a candy shop.” However Andi defended the dish – she liked the borek stuffed with tulum cheese – saying it was a good plate of food.

Tom’s starter, a tomato gazpacho with mustard and dill ice cream, labelled Marbella Memories, was not well received, and neither was the dish’s title.

The fish courses received more mixed reviews. Tom’s refined take on the classic picnic pleased Matthew who loved the whopping dollop of caviar on top of the fish, while Oliver didn’t appreciate the ‘sea of shocking beurre blanc’.

andi oliver great british menu 2017
Andi Oliver Great British Menu 2017 

Main course was a smoky meat feast. They enjoyed Tom’s dish but said there were so many elements that you had to ‘battle your way to the lamb’. Selin’s Grand Slam Lamb received some ‘woah’ comments from the judges, who enjoyed her Dutchee sausage.

Tom took the next set with his twist on strawberries and cream. However they weren’t too keen on Selin’s elaborate dessert, Ladies Dressed In White, and the many elements which made it up. Andi did like the strawberry Bellini, which Leon described as “coaches lemonade”, while Oliver Peyton said the cream cheese and strawberry sphere, wrapped in kadaif pastry, was a “weird little number.”

In the end, Selin managed to inch into the lead and was sent through to the national finals. The judges said that they loved her lamb dish, but urged her to change the dessert.

As for Tom, Andi pleaded with him to return next year and try his hand at the competition again.

Who will rise to the challenge next week as the contestants from the South West step up to the plate?

Twitter: @monica_turnbull

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2017 here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th May 2017

Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - London/South East heat