Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - North East heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th May 2017

The competition is close to home for the Great British Menu North East contestants this week, as three friends who’ve known each other for years battle it out for a chance to cook at the Wimbledon banquet.

Taking to the Great British Menu kitchen are returning banquet champion, Tommy Banks, who is head chef at his family’s restaurant, The Black Swan, where he has retained its Michelin Star. He will face first-time Great British Menu contestants 2017, Danny Parker, who is head chef at former Great British Menu champion Kenny Atkinson’s Michelin-starred restaurant, House of Tides, in Newcastle. Also joining them is Josh Overington, who owns and is head chef at Le Cochon Aveugle, in York, where he serves diners ‘blind’, unaware of the dishes which they will receive.

Scoring the chefs this week is competition veteran, Jeremy Lee, who is a chef proprietor at Quo Vadis restaurant in London.

First to the pass was Tommy, who attempted to recreate the Midsummer Solstice celebrations with his starter, Midsummer. The dish included blowtorched cherry tomatoes, cod roe, tomato essence and fresh cherry tomatoes. It was served flaming and the theatrics impressed both Jeremy and the chefs. When it came to the tasting there was a clash of opinions as Tommy’s pals gave the tomato essence plum reviews, but Jeremy wasn’t convinced.

Tommy Banks, Great British Menu 2017
Jeremy Lee and Tommy Banks

Next to serve was creative chef, Josh, who took the taste of summer brief to a new level with his unusual starter, Strawberries And Ice Cream In The Garden. He plated up granola, nasturtium ice cream, pickled green strawberries, nasturtium flowers and leaves, this was accompanied by strawberry veloute. The chefs loved Josh’s nasturtium ice cream; however, it was thought that perhaps the dish may be better served as a dessert.

Last to the pass was Danny, with his dish (the title is a mouthful in itself) If You Can Meet With Triumph And Disaster And Treat Those Two Imposters Just The Same. The gastronomic affair combined 22 elements – to represent the 22 players who competed in the first Wimbledon Championship - yet appeared a delicate delight on the plate. It certainly took some nimble fingers to put together!

Danny Parker, Great British Menu 2017
Danny Parker's If You Can Meet With Triumph And Disaster And Treat Those Two Imposters Just The Same

The dish included, to name but a few ingredients: broccoli, peas, broad beans, white radish, courgette flowers, herbs, vegetable crisps and lovage emulsion. It was served with a burning candle which smelled of cut grass. Jeremy, despite his reservations about the lovage emulsion, enjoyed the dish.

>>> Get Danny's starter for If You Can Meet With Triumph And Disaster And Treat Those Two Imposters Just The Same here

When the scores were called, it was Danny who took the lead with nine points as Jeremy praised the way he balanced the flavours in his dish. Despite reservations about the sweetness of his starter, Jeremy awarded Josh eight points. Former banquet champion, Tommy, was given eight points as Jeremy said he was expecting more flavour from his dish.
With one point separating the contestants, it’s all to play for in the fish course tonight.

The Great British Menu North East heat is uncomfortably close after the contestants netted scores which leave them one point apart at the halfway point.

Great British Menu contestants 2017, Tommy Banks, of The Black Swan restaurant, Danny Parker, Head Chef at House of Tides and Josh Overington, owner and chef at Le Cochon Aveugle, in York, served a smorgasbord of seafood for competition veteran, Jeremy Lee, in the hope of making it through to cook for the judges on Friday and winning the chance to serve their food at the Wimbledon banquet. Jeremy, who is famed for his British cooking, raised an eyebrow at some of the elements in the dishes, but was notably surprised by the perhaps unusual meals.

First to the pass was Danny, with his fishy concoction, Celebrating With Bubbles. Presented in a wooden champagne box – to replicate that presented to past Wimbledon champions – the scallop dish was served alongside a mini bottle of champagne. Danny lined champagne bottles, which had been cut in half, with grape vinegar gel, raw scallops, pickled sultanas and pickled breakfast radish. He added champagne jelly and garnished with flowers.

Danny Parker, Great British Menu 2017
Danny Parker

Jeremy, when presented with the elaborate dish, exclaimed “golly gee whizzykins!” Obviously he appreciated the effort in Danny’s presentation. When it came to the tasting, he said he was intrigued by some of the flavour combinations, while the chefs weren’t sure about some of the flavours, proclaiming the dill overpowering.

>>> Get Danny's Celebrating With Bubbles recipe here

Returning banquet champion, Tommy, was second to plate up with his dish, Turbot With Strawberries & Cream. The turbot was cooked in butter until still slightly transparent in the middle. The chefs thought it was cooked beautifully. Jeremy said that the green strawberries were delicious and Danny said that it was “banquet worthy” and “it annoyed him” how much he liked it.

Turbot With Strawberries & Cream, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Banks' Turbot With Strawberries & Cream

Josh was last to serve his dish, Game, Set, Pop! The luxurious concoction included lobster, scollops, mussels and champagne. Jeremy hailed the plate busy, while Josh defended it, saying that he wanted to create something which “exuded celebration”. Jeremy said he needed to wash the grit out of his mussels.

When the scores were given out it was Tommy who hit an ace with nine points for his buttery turbot. After serving a fish dish at the Great British Menu banquet in the past, he will now be hoping his fish dish is enough to get him through to the finals again. Danny and Josh both received eight points from the veteran judge.

>>> Read more about Tommy Banks here

With Tommy and Josh tied on 16 points and Danny just one point ahead with 17, the chefs are raring to go to take the lead with the main course tonight. This is set to be a long rally, folks!

The stakes were raised as The Great British Menu North East contestants 2017 cooked up a meat feast in the hope of winning the chance to cook at the Wimbledon banquet.

First to the pass with his risky lamb dish, Champions Guard Of Honour, was former Great British Menu banquet champion, Tommy Banks. The chef, of The Black Swan restaurant, took a chance by carving his lamb at the pass. Thankfully the gamble paid off as he was pleased with the cooking. The dish, which included turnip, potatoes, chocolate mint leaves and pickled turnip discs, paid homage to the line-up received by Wimbledon champions. It was even served on a tennis racquet serving board.

Tommy Banks' Champions Guard Of Honour, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Banks' Champions Guard Of Honour

After saying it was “a relief” when he carved the lamb and saw it was pink, Tommy said he hoped for nine points. Veteran judge, Jeremy Lee, didn’t give much away when tasting, but the chefs said they were nervous after tasting the dish.

Next to serve was Josh Overington, head chef at Le Cochon Aveugle in York. He also served lamb in his dish, Grandad On The Barbecue Drinking Red Wine. The plate was a beetroot feast, featuring beetroot puree, powdered beetroot, roasted yellow and red beetroot and blow torched teardrop peppers. Alongside this he served roast lamb rump, squid ink ketchup and lamb borscht, to represent his grandad’s glass of red wine. He topped it all with a glass dome filled with Cabernet Sauvignon smoke.

Josh Overington, Great British Menu 2017
Josh Overington

When trying the lamb borscht the chefs commented that it reminded them of a beef tea served at football matches. Charming…Jeremy didn’t give much away, but the chefs also commented that they weren’t convinced by the squid ink ketchup. There was something distinctly fishy about it.

Last to the pass was Danny Parker, head chef at Kenny Atkinson’s Michelin-starred restaurant, House of Tides. Danny’s dish, A Sign Of Wealth, was a take on ham and pineapple, in tribute to the pineapple on top of the men’s Wimbledon trophy. He combined caramelised brown onion puree, spring onion, suckling pork loin and sautéed, salted pineapple chunks, radishes and pineapple puree. He served barbecue pulled pork on the side, in a golden pineapple. The chefs commented that it was “a bit of bling”. Fancy!

Jeremy described the loin of pork as a real treat, but the pulled pork, he said, was “furious”.

>>> Get the recipe for Danny's A Sign Of Wealth dish here

The interesting main courses turned the tables in the scoring. Jeremy gave both Danny and Josh eight points, while Tommy was awarded 10 for his daring lamb dish. He said that despite the gimmicky tennis racquet, the cooking of the dish was “fine and honest.”

With one course left and only two points between the chefs, the pressure is on in the dessert round. What will they concoct next?

There was a tie break in the Great British Menu kitchen as the battle of the Pannacottas proved tricky to judge for competition veteran Jeremy Lee.

The Great British Menu North East regional heat reached boiling point during the dessert round. With only two points separating friends and Great British Menu contestants 2017, Tommy Banks, of The Black Swan, Danny Parker, of House of Tides and Josh Overington, of Le Cochon Aveugle, all the stops were pulled out to gain the chance to cook for the judges tonight.

The chefs created desserts to meet the brief, A Taste of Summer, in the hope of winning the chance to cook at a banquet celebrating 140 years of The Championships, Wimbledon.

First to serve was Josh. Walking Through The Hedgerow Picking Berries consisted of aerated pannacotta, buckwheat crumble, wild berries and wild strawberry sorbet. He topped with more wild berries, strawberry powder and sweet woodruff flowers, as well as nasturtium leaves. Jeremy, who loved the presentation, described the dessert as “summer in a bowl.” The only issue? Josh forgot to include the honeycomb which he thought may cost him points.

Josh Overington's Walking Through The Hedgegrow Picking Berries
Josh Overington's Walking Through The Hedgegrow Picking Berries

Next to plate up was Danny, who impressed all week with his creative presentation. His dessert, the second pannacotta of the evening, combined strawberry elements including strawberry topped pannacotta, strawberry jelly, strawberry sorbet and strawberry meringue, as well as fresh strawberries. This came alongside a dandelion and burdock flavour cocktail served in a tennis ball shaped glass. The dessert, quirkily served on a garden display, inside a greenhouse, received 10/10 for effort from Jeremy.

>>> Get the recipe for Danny Parker's Please Sir, Can I Have My Ball Back here


Last to the pass was returning banquet champion, Tommy Banks. He took inspiration from his childhood growing up on a farm for his dessert, Hay Time. Served in a hay wreath and sprayed with homemade hay perfume, the dish included raspberry puree on heather and flour honey filo disks. This was served with meadow sweet cheesecake, hay custard and cream cheese ice cream.

The chefs liked the floral hay flavour in the custard however Jeremy wasn’t sure about the lack of density in the cheesecake. Tommy, however, never wavered in his confidence in the dish because, he said “it’s everything I like.”

Tommy Banks, Great British Menu
Tommy Banks

When it came to scoring, Jeremy gave Tommy eight points, bringing his score to 34 and putting him straight through to cook for the judges. He then awarded Danny eight points, and Josh nine, which meant they drew with 33 points each. When deuce was called, Jeremy had to make the decision as to who would cook for the judges. He chose to put Josh through to the next stage and the decision certainly shocked Danny, who said that it was “quite hard to take.”

With the scores so close, the judges are set to have a tough tasting on their hands tonight.

Tonight the two remaining chefs from the North East heat of the Great British Menu 2017 were put through their paces once again as they were asked to recreate their dishes for the judges in order to win a place at the national final.

It’s been an incredibly close call this week for the North East contestants on Great British Menu 2017 as Danny Parker narrowly missed out on making it through to tonight’s final leaving close friends Tommy Banks and Josh Overington to battle it out for the chance to cook at this year’s banquet.

Great British Menu contestants 2017 Tommy Banks chef/owner of the Michelin starred, The Black Swan at Oldstead and Josh Overington, chef/patron of the Le Cochon Aveugle went neck to neck to impress the Great British Menu judges Oliver Peyton, Matthew Fort, Andi Oliver, and special guest judge Judy Murray, mother to professional tennis players, Jamie and Andy Murray.

This year the judges are looking for dishes that reflect ‘A Taste of Summer’ to coincide with 140 years of Wimbledon.

Tommy Banks and Josh Overington, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Banks and Josh Overington

First to the pass tonight was Josh whose strawberry starter Strawberries And Ice Cream In The Garden failed to impress Veteran judge Jeremy Lee who said it “lacked spark.” The judges also had divided opinions saying it was “unappealing” but Matthew thought it was “unusual and interesting.”

Josh’s fish and main courses were also scored a mixed bag of results but the chef impressed with his dessert Walking Through The Hedgerow Picking Berries which scored him his highest score of the week with a nine. The judges described the dish as “very appealing” and enjoyed the pannacotta.

Returning champion Tommy was up next. Having made it through to the banquet last year, Tommy was eager to impress. The judges were left underwhelmed with Tommy’s Midsummer starter saying it didn’t quite have the wow factor. But the chef pulled it out off the bag for his following dishes with his fish course being described as “beautifully cooked” and his main as “world class”. For his dessert, Hay Time, the judges applauded him for using raspberries instead of strawberries and said the only criticism they had with the dish was that it was too small.

Tommy Banks, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Banks

After much deliberation, the judges decided the chef that would make it through to the national finals to cook at the banquet held in the shadow of the Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club would be returning champion Tommy Banks. They really enjoyed his dessert and said that they could see his main as a real contender at the banquet. The judges congratulated Josh and said to make sure that it was Tommy’s tab tonight at the bar!

By Monica Turnbull

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2017 here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th May 2017

Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - North East heat