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

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 19th May 2017

It was a festival of flavours as three new chefs took to the Great British Menu kitchen in the North West heat of the national competition to cook some colourful starters.

The contestants in the North West heat of the Great British Menu 2017 are Tom Parker, Ellis Barrie and Paul Askew. Tom, 26, is head chef at The White Swan restaurant in Fence. Also hoping for an ace is self-taught chef Ellis Barrie, who turned his parents’ potting shed into an award winning restaurant, The Maram Grass. The last contender is Paul Askew, whose restaurant The Art School Restaurant has been list in The Sunday Times’ Top 100 Restaurants in the UK for 2017.

The chefs, who are competing to win a chance to cook at a banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Championship, are cooking for Great British Menu veteran, Daniel Clifford, who was named a winner of the competition in 2012 and 2013. Daniel said that he is looking for greatness from the contestants. No pressure there then…

During last night’s starter round, the chefs closely followed the brief – to create dishes which are a taste of summer – producing eye catching, colourful plates of food.

Paul was first to the pass with his starter, The Little Wonder, which paid homage to female tennis Lottie Dodd, from the Wirral. Paul plated up goats cheese curd, watercress puree, watercress leaves, asparagus and eggs poached with truffle. Daniel, who is head chef at two-Michelin star restaurant Midsummer House, said that the dish was cooked perfectly.

Paul Askew, Great British Menu 2017
Paul Askew

Ellis’s dish, Sumer Is Icumen In, showcased every possible way to cook cucumber: a cucumber and gin cocktail, compressed cucumber and cucumber tagliatelle, to name a few. He served it all in a picnic basket. The dish impressed, with Paul saying “wow, I think that’s my kind of summer celebration.” 

>>> Related: 10 minutes with Ellis Barrie

Last to plate up was Tom, with More Balls Please. In a bowl he made a salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and watermelon balls, strawberry and lime gel balls, topped with tomato tea consommé. The second part was a cone filled with goats cheese mousse, topped with goats cheese ice cream.

ellis 9
Ellis Barrie's Summer Is Icumen In

When the scores came in it was Ellis who took the top points, scoring eight. Daniel said that the presentation in the picnic box was ‘bang on’ for the summer brief, but that the oyster butter had curdled which let the dish down slightly. Tom was scored seven points for his tomato and goat cheese creation. He was praised for the flavour combination of tomatoes and strawberries. Paul was disappointed with his score of five points for his dish The Little Wonder. Daniel said that it was not the kind of dish he would expect at a banquet.

A tough start to the week! Let’s see what happens in the fish course…

It was a night of shocks and showstoppers as the Great British Menu North West contestants took to the kitchen to create their wild, and a little whacky, fish dishes. But whose was the catch of the day?

The first Great British Menu 2017 contestant to serve their fishy dish, You Cannot Be Sear-ious! It Was On The Line, was self-taught chef Ellis Barrie, who turned a potting shed into an award-winning restaurant.

Ellis Barrie's You Cannot Be Sea-rious! It Was On The Line
Ellis Barrie's You Cannot Be Sea-rious! It Was On The Line

To meet the brief, a taste of summer, and be in with a chance of cooking at the Wimbledon banquet, theatrical Ellis served chargrilled seabass with cauliflower puree, three types of cauliflower and sea lettuce, on a bed of Anglesey seaweed with dry ice, in a barbeque. The dish received a stunned reaction from competition veteran, Daniel Clifford, head chef at Midsummer House restaurant, who said he was left “really confused”. After the tough tasting, Ellis joked “is it home time yet?” There really was something fishy going on with this dish… 

Next to the pass was Tom Parker, head chef at The White Swan restaurant in Fence. Tom’s dish, Game, Set And Catch, was inspired by his childhood summers in France. He served langoustine on a bed of lemon puree, warm peas and broad beans with a sauce of coconut milk, champagne and oysters. Confused? So was Daniel who said it was too floral for his taste, and he didn’t like the presentation, which was supposed to replicate a boat looking down onto the sea bed.

Tom Parker and Daniel Cliford
Tom Parker and Daniel Clifford

Last up was head chef and restaurateur Paul Askew, of The Art School, who was hoping to score 10 points with his turbot dish and seven accompaniments. He served the meaty fish on a bed of pomme mousseline and wilted spinach, topped with a potato galette, poached oyster wrapped in courgette, courgette flower, a garnish of oyster leaf and bronze fennel fonds. Oh, there was also a teaspoon of caviar on the side and a champagne sauce.

Paul Askew preparing his A British Double dish
Paul Askew preparing his A British Double dish

The many, many ingredients which made up Paul’s dish, A British Double, were just too much for Daniel. After holding his head in his hands, he stopped Paul and asked him to remove some garnish so the flavours of the fish weren’t overpowered. He did like the cooking of the turbot. Paul said the competition is a “character building experience”.

>>> Get Paul's recipe for A British Double here

When the scores came in, it was Ellis who once again came out on top, scoring 10 points. Daniel was overwhelmed by his clever dish which “took him completely by surprise”. Tom scored eight; Daniel said his sparkling wine sauce was delish and the langoustines were cooked perfectly. He didn’t like the presentation. Paul was awarded seven points and Daniel said that the fish was cooked perfectly. He advised Paul to make simple tweaks to elevate his dish.

What a tense week? It’s all to play for with the main courses.

The competition might be tough but the same can’t be said for the marvellous meaty mains produced by the Great British Menu 2017 contestants during the North West heat of the competition.

Competitors Tom Parker, Ellis Barrie and Paul Askew are turning up the heat in the Great British Menu kitchen as they cook for a place at a banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships, all with a theme of a taste of summer.

First to the pass was the competition’s youngest entrant, Tom Parker, who is head chef at The White Swan restaurant in Fence. Tom, who received mixed comments about his fish course, was determined to pull off a show-stopping main and impress competition veteran, Daniel Clifford, with his fillet of beef.

Tom Parker, Great British Menu 2017
Tom Parker working on his You Cannot Beef Serious dish

Tom’s dish, You Cannot Beef Serious, was aiming to be the ultimate barbeque experience. He barbequed his meat twice, cooked it in a water bath, rested in herb butter and rolled in herbs. He served it alongside baked potato with nasturtium butter and nasturtium flowers. All this was then presented in a barbeque. Daniel questioned whether the dish needed a sauce.

Paul, head chef at The Art School Restaurant, began the evening as the underdog, with 12 points. Determined to make it through to see the judges on Friday, he cooked hogget in honour of his mother. Summer Memories With Marjorie included four cuts of hogget: confit shoulder, pan roast loin, sweetbreads and hay roasted hogget rump. The meat was served with tapenade topped with an anchovy, pearly barley and lamb jus served in a ram’s horn. Daniel said that the dish was the best presented he had served all week and the Ellis succinctly described it as “banging.”

Paul Askew, Great British Menu 2017
Paul Askew's Summer Memories With Marjorie

Last to the pass was Ellis, who is head chef at award-winning restaurant, The Marram Grass. His dish, in honour of a Wimbledon champion, was named Fred Perry’s Pork Tie. 

He plated up deep fried pig bonbons, pork and perry stock and pork loin stuffed with cumin. This was accompanied by broad beans, crispy shallot rings, herbs and caramelised pear pearls. This was placed on a seat with a tie, in Wimbledon colours, draped over the back, which Ellis said was to tell Fred Perry’s rags to riches story. Daniel said he succeeded in telling the story but unfortunately there was too much cumin in the pork.

When the scores were given it was Paul who was victorious, with Daniel saying that he had “given a lesson in classic cooking”. Thrilled with the points, Paul goes into tonight’s (Thursday’s) dessert round neck and neck with Tom, who scored seven points. Ellis, who had started the night on a high after scoring 10 points for his fish dish, was also awarded seven, pushing him into the lead with 25 points.

Now, who will be feeling sweet after dessert is served?

It was a sweet win for two Great British Menu North West contestants as they made it through to cook for the judges, but sadly one was left with cake on his face after being sent home.

The Great British Menu contestants 2017 whipped up stunning sweet, and savoury, desserts for competition veteran, Daniel Clifford last night. The competitors are aiming to get the chance to cook at a banquet celebrating 140 years of The Championships, Wimbledon, with winning dishes which are ‘a taste of summer’.

First to the pass was Ellis Barrie, head chef at award-winning restaurant The Marram Grass. Ellis has had mixed results after scoring 10 points for his fish course but failing to impress Michelin-starred chef Daniel with his main. He hoped to win the veteran over with his dessert, Strawberry Fields.

Ellis Barrie, Great British Menu 2017
Ellis Barrie creating his Strawberry Fields dessert

Designed to look like a field of ‘pick your own’ strawberries, the dish included strawberry panna cotta, strawberry sorbet, compressed strawberries, a filo pastry wafer and chocolate gravel. Daniel, who thought the presentation was clever, said that there was still a lot of work needed to refine the dessert.

Next was Tom Parker, head chef at The White Swan restaurant, who entered the dessert heat neck-and-neck with fellow competitor Paul Askew. He served an unusual savoury and sweet dish called Wim-Bil-Done. Tom made beetroot parfait, coated in chocolate, served with bilberry marmalade; squares of goat’s curd cheese; toasted brioche and edible viola flowers. He served brioche toast and hibiscus tea separately and supplied a wooden spoon to eat it with. Daniel, who is head chef at Midsummer House, said that the dish was “awkward” to eat and he wasn’t a fan of the hibiscus tea which “turned the dish into a sweet soup”.

Tom Parker's Whim-Bil-done, Great British Menu 2017
Tom Parker's Whim-Bil-done

>>> Get Tom Parker's recipe for Whim-Bil-Done here

Paul Askew, head chef at The Art School restaurant, was last to serve, and plated up a classic dessert, Baked Alaska. Paul, who received 10 points for his main course, combined rum soaked pineapple and macerated strawberries with pineapple ice cream. After baking the pudding at the last moment, he finished off the pineapple and coconut meringue by browning it with a blow torch. He served it with peach ice tea, granola and natural honeycomb.

When Daniel gave the scores it was Ellis who was sent straight through to cook for the judges after receiving seven points, giving him a total of 32. Paul was awarded nine for his “perfect” Baked Alaska, giving him a total of 31 points and also sending him through to tonight’s regional final. Tom received seven points, giving him a total of 29 and meaning he was sent home. Daniel encouraged the young chef to try again next year.

It’s set to be an all-Scouse regional final, with Daniel saying that Paul will give Ellis “the fight of his life”. Watch out for a knock-out round!

It was an emotional night as the two remaining Great British Menu North West contestants cooked for their place at the national final, with one left speechless as he was announced the winner.

Great British Menu contestants 2017, Ellis Barrie, head chef at The Marram Grass, and Paul Askew, head chef and restaurateur at The Art School, went head to head to cook for Great British menu judges Oliver Peyton, Matthew Fort and Andi Oliver, as well as guest judge, former British number one tennis player, Greg Rusedski.

The North West contestants are competing for the chance to cook at a banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon championships. In the process, they’ve each created mouth-watering menus which aim to be ‘a taste of summer.’

First, to the pass last night was Paul Askew, who Matthew Fort, food writer and critic, called the most experienced chef in the competition. Paul, who failed to impress competition veteran Daniel Clifford with his starter, was again met with little enthusiasm when presenting his first course, The Little Wonder, which featured goats cheese curd, asparagus and duck eggs.

Ellis, a self-taught chef, made more of an impression with his cucumber and oyster starter, Summer Is Icumen In, which was served in a picnic basket. The judges were all a fan of the cucumber and gin cocktail.

The young chef also impressed the judges with his fish course, which was served in a barbeque, with Anglesey seaweed and dry ice. Andi hailed the cauliflower puree a silky triumph and Greg said the fish was ace.

ellis 7

When the main course was presented it was Paul who came out on top as the judges cooed over his melt-in-the-mouth hogget dish, Summer Memories With Marjorie, which was swimming in velvety jus. They also appreciated the pretty presentation, complete with a serving horn. When the scores came in, the judges had given the dish straight nines.

Ellis’s quirky presentation for his main course, Fred Perry’s Pork Tie, was well received, however, the food wasn’t such a hit, as Oliver Peyton complained that his pork was slightly under cooked and the judges said the dish lacked flavour.

The competition was on the line as service drew to a close. Unfortunately, Ellis’ Strawberry Field’s dessert failed to overwhelm the judges, with Greg describing it as “predictable”. Paul’s classic Baked Alaska, which received nine points from Daniel, was also disappointing to the judges who struggled to crack through the meringue and said it was too sweet.

After using their own hawk eyes to examine the chefs’ lovingly prepared dishes, the judges decided it was Ellis who will cook at the national finals. He was left speechless by the result and said winning the heat was a “weird” feeling. The judges congratulated Paul but said, in the end, he lost out to “an exceptionally talented” young man.

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 19th May 2017

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