Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - Northern Ireland heat

The Staff Canteen

The last week of the regional heats has kicked off in style as the Great British menu Northern Ireland contestants whipped up some creative starters.

Stepping into the Great British Menu kitchen this week is returning contestant Eddie Attwell, of St Kyrans restaurant. He is determined to make it through to cook for the judges on Friday after failing to do so last time. Joining him are first time contestants Joery Castel, head chef at Saphyre restaurant and Tommy Heaney, head chef at The Great House Hotel.

>>> Read more about Joery Castel here

Judging the chefs this week is competition veteran and Michelin-starred chef, Michael Smith, of Loch Bay restaurant, who is not holding back as he searches for a Wimbledon banquet champion.

Michael Smith, Great British Menu 2017
Michael Smith

First to the pass was Tommy, who is serving some very unusual ingredients including pigeon claw, which Michael pointed out may be a bit too much for some diners. The dish was a tribute to Wimbledon’s hawk, Rufus, who helps to keep centre court clear of pigeons. 

Rufus Beets The Pigeons Away combined fairly rare pigeon with beetroot. The chefs thought that the meat had a very “livery” texture and Michael also thought that it may be too rare for some diners at the banquet.

>>> Related: 10 Minutes with: Tommy Heaney

Next up was Dutch born Joery who served a compilation of carrots in his vibrant starter. Joery served Irish blue cheese with an assortment of carrot elements, including caramelised carrots and carrot meringues, white chocolate and cocoa nibs.

The dish, If It Ain’t Dutch, It Ain’t Much, had some good flavour combinations but failed to wow Michael who was disappointed that Joery forgot the hazelnuts and found an overwhelming flavour of garlic in the dish. The chefs weren’t impressed with the “gummy” texture of the carrot meringue.

Eddie was determined to impress Michael when he presented his dish named after famous fictional characters The Wombles. Womble Common was made up of a horde of ingredients including poached salsify in squid ink crumb, charred lettuce, Coolea cheese custard, pickled mushrooms, artichoke and kale, to name but a few.

Eddie Attwell's Womble Common, Great British Menu 2017
Eddie Attwell's Womble Common

The chefs said that because there were so many creamy elements in the dish: cheese custard, artichoke puree and Douglas fir, the flavours and textures were lost as they blended together in the bowl. Optimistic Eddie said he would like eight points for the dish. Joery said the high standard of the first courses had him worried.

Straight-talking Michael gave very honest feedback to the contestants before serving the points. In a surprise scoring, Eddie and Tommy were both awarded seven points. Disappointed Joery was awarded five points, as predicted.

>>> Get the recipe for Tommy's starter, Rufus Beets The Pigeons Away here

The disheartened chef said he was ready to step up his game in the next round and Michael said he expecting a real taste of summer with the fish dishes. The chefs are fighting for their dish to catch of the day!

First place came as a surprise to one of the Great British Menu contestants 2017 but one was left swimming upstream as the fish course proved a tricky challenge.

It’s been a tough week so far in the Great British Menu kitchen as the Northern Ireland contestants chop and simmer their way through the regional heat in the hope of scoring big points from veteran Michael Smith, of Loch Bay restaurant.

After a rocky start, first-time contestant Joery Castel, of Saphyre restaurant, was determined to impress with his Malaysian inspired fish course. It certainly looked picture perfect! Joery, who is drawing inspiration from his native land of Holland and home in Northern Ireland, served up mackerel in tribute to his childhood summers spent fishing.

Who Remembers 2nd? Was made up of fiery mackerel rillettes, mackerel fillet, cucumber elements and pickled kumquats. To finish he added black rice and foam of soy, chilli and kaffir lime leaf. The chefs thought that the dish hit the ‘taste of summer brief’ with its subtle, smoky flavours however Michael wondered if diners at the banquet, celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships, would understand the link to Wimbledon through the presentation, which was completely tennis free.

Joery Castel, Great British Menu 2017
Joery Castel

Fellow first-timer Tommy Heaney, head chef at The Great House Hotel, served a sushi inspired picnic in tribute to Wimbledon champion Andy Murray. Murray Mound included salmon tartar wrapped in cucumber ribbons, charred confit salmon, buttermilk and horseradish sorbet and red cabbage caviar. He added a bottle of herb jus and cup of lovage and coriander granite, topped with summer cup foam.

The unusual summer cup had a “sharp” flavour however the horseradish sorbet was a summery hit. Tommy said it had turned out “exactly how he wanted it” and said he’d like a score of nine.

Tommy Heaney's Murray Mound, Great British Menu 2017

Tommy Heaney's Murray Mound

>>> Get the recipe for Tommy's Murray Mound here

Returning contender Eddie Attwell, of St Kyrans restaurant, was the first chef this week to create his own dish on the Wimbledon classic, strawberries and cream (which incidentally took the same name). His alternative version combined fresh, compressed and roasted strawberries, scallops, buckwheat crackers and scallop cream. At the last minute Eddie took a risk by adding roasted buckwheat with scallop.

The risky plate was a bounty of colour. Unfortunately, the scallops were undercooked and the flavour of the shellfish was lost in the multitude of strawberries. And unfortunately for Eddie his gamble with the buckwheat and roe didn’t pay off; it was too crunchy. Oh dear…

When the scores were called it was Tommy who won the second set with nine points. Michael criticised him for undercooking the confit salmon. Eddie was awarded seven points for Strawberries and Cream and Joery was left in third place, receiving eight points.

Never despondent, Joery is still in it to win it and is determined to claw his way to the top spot and cook for the judges. Watch this space!

It was the battle of the barbecues as the Great British Menu Northern Ireland contestants battled it out for the big points with their main courses.

It’s been an intense week so far in the Great British Menu kitchen, with mishaps including forgotten ingredients and undercooked fish, but the pressure was on at the half way point as the Northern Ireland Great British Menu contestants 2017 cooked to secure their place in Friday’s regional final.

The chefs all smashed the ‘taste of summer brief’ by cooking their own variations of barbecue dishes.

Returning competitor Eddie Attwell, of St Kyrans restaurant, cooked a Great British Menu first in his main course, Lawn Fayre… water buffalo! The hearty dish consisted of water buffalo rib eye steak, a very controversial water buffalo quiche (quiche on a banquet main course?), and purple potato salad and lovage emulsion.

Despite his big risk, and although the chefs did like the water buffalo, the meat was said to be undercooked and they weren’t sure if it was suitable for a banquet.

Dutch-born Joery Castel, of Saphyre restaurant, had been concerned about using pork for his American inspired dish, A Summer’s Barbecue, after seeing Eddie’s unusual meat. He served three cuts of pork: slices of pork secreto, barbecued pork and pork tenderloin topped with a paprika sugar tuile (instead of crackling). He also plated up accompaniments: kohlrabi coleslaw, cornbread, corn puree, black garlic pure and sweetcorn.

Joery Castel's A Summer's Barbecue, Great British Menu 2017
Joery Castel's A Summer's Barbecue

The chefs appreciated the fact that they got to crackle their own pork with a blowtorch, however veteran judge Michael Smith, of Loch Bay restaurant, said that it didn’t actually add anything to the dish. Well, each to their own! And while the presentation was applauded Michael said it wasn’t dramatic enough for the banquet.

>>> Get Joery's A Summer's Barbecue recipe here

Tommy Heaney, of The Great House Hotel, impressed with the presentation of his lamb dish, A Summer Holiday. Tommy plated up, on a beach scene, aubergine and barbecued lamb rump and rib, salsify batons, salsa verde and eucalyptus and onion puree. He also served cockles with sea vegetables. In a little twist he added barbecued potato skins filled with potato foam.

Tommy Heaney's A Summer Holiday, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Heaney's A Summer Holiday

Michael was blown away by Tommy’s presentation – saying it was ‘spectacular’ - however he judged that the cockles weren’t necessary. The chefs said that the lamb was perfect for the banquet and that the potato was a lovely surprise.

>>> Get Tommy's A Summer Holiday recipe here

The contestants were nervous when the scores were called as Michael had given little away in his feedback. He declared a tie break by awarding Joery eight points and Eddie seven, giving them both a total of 21. Tommy was again awarded nine for his main course putting him four points in the lead on 25.

Michael said it is going to be a tough match tonight as the contestants play their last set for the chance to cook for the judges tomorrow.

Edible tennis balls?! The Great British Menu Northern Ireland contestants were out to prove that there isn’t anything you can’t do with food in the penultimate round.

It was a fun yet tense night in the Great British Menu kitchen as the desserts determined who would cook for the judges and who would head home. With that in mind the Northern Ireland Great British Menu contestants 2017 pulled out all the stops to impress competition veteran and Michelin-starred chef Michael Smith, of Loch Bay restaurant.

Michael Smith with contestants Eddie Attwell, Joery Castel and Tommy Heaney, Great British Menu 2017
Michael Smith with contestants Eddie Attwell, Joery Castel and Tommy Heaney

First-time contestant Joery Castel, of Saphyre restaurant, was determined to clinch the points he needed to make it through to the regional final after lagging behind. Joery cooked his own, very refined version, of strawberries and cream entitled I Came, I Saw, I Served.

He plated up fresh strawberries, strawberry marshmallows, strawberry crisp, quenelles of lemon-infused mascarpone crème, poffertjes (Dutch pancakes) and charred watermelon. There was also a cheeky little jug of strawberries and cream cocktail. After tasting Tommy quipped “I’m just sobering up after that!”

Michael liked the cocktail but didn’t think that the watermelon was necessary to the dish. And he didn’t think that the presentation would wow enough at the Wimbledon banquet. Shame.

>>> Get the recipe for Joery's I Came, I Saw, I Served here

Fellow first-timer Tommy Heaney, head chef at Leicester’s Restaurant at The Great House Hotel, has wowed with his creativity this week and dessert was no different. New Balls Please drew inspiration from the fact that new balls are kept at 20ºc on the Wimbledon courts.

Tommy served edible tennis balls (white chocolate and strawberry spheres) in a mini fridge. On a separate presentation box he dished up strawberry powder, basil gel, hazelnut crumble and basil sponge.

Everyone was blown away by Tommy’s effort in presentation and cooking. Despite the frozen tennis ball being a little hard, Michael said he liked it. The strawberry clouds he’d made disappeared in the mouth and the basil sponge was light.

Tommy Heaney's New Balls Please, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Heaney's New Balls Please

>>> Get the recipe for Tommy's New Balls Please here

Returning contender Eddie Attwell, of St Kyrans restaurant, also made an edible tennis ball. Drop Shot combined a tempered white chocolate ball, blueberry gel, caramelised white chocolate mousse, discs of white chocolate cake and vodka-soaked white chocolate blueberries. He added lemon-verbena foam and oxeye daisy granite. He finished with a bottle of fuchsia cordial and icing net.

The chefs liked the novelty of smashing into the tennis ball and enjoyed the blueberry jelly. Michael wasn’t keen on the granita which Eddie admitted didn’t work and said shouldn’t have been included in the dish.

When the scores were announced it was Tommy who’d won the set. He received Michael’s first ever 10 points! His show-stopping dessert sent him straight through to cook for the judges. Eddie was given eight points, making a total of 29, which meant there was heartbreak for Joery. He was awarded seven points, giving him a total of 28 and sending him home.

Now who will win the match tomorrow?

The Northern Ireland regional heat reached breaking point when the Great British Menu contestants 2017 recreated their menus for the judges.

The Great British Menu Northern Ireland regional heat has been a rollercoaster with neck-and-neck scores, kitchen mishaps and surprising dishes – the water buffalo and edible tennis balls still surprise me!

The final round was no different. Judges Oliver Peyton OBE and Andi Oliver, both restaurateurs, broadcaster Matthew Fort and guest judge, ‘tennis’ greatest entertainer’, Mansour Bahrami, struggled to choose their winner to go through to the national finals.

Returning contender Eddie Attwell, of St Kyrans restaurant, was determined to secure his place. Unfortunately he didn’t get off to the best start; his starter, Womble Common, failed to wow the judges. Mansour wondered if he could eat the dehydrated artichoke skin and Matthew was sceptical of the “healthy” salad.

However, Matthew joked that Tommy’s starter, Rufus Beets The Pigeons Away, had him “cooing with pleasure.” He loved the pigeon and even wore the artificial nest plate as a hat. What a joker!

Things went more downhill for Eddie with his fish course, Strawberries And Cream. Matthew didn’t like the presentation and Oliver said the strawberries were “all wrong.” It wasn’t looking good for the returning contender!

Eddie Attwell, Great British Menu 2017
Eddie Attwell

Swords were drawn at the judging table when Tommy’s dish, Murray Mound, was presented. While Mansour enjoyed the “fresh” dish and said he liked the red cabbage caviar, Matthew said the salmon was one of the most disgusting dishes he’d ever eaten. Ooo err!

The chef received further critique for his main course, A Summer Holiday. While Andi liked the potato foam, Mansour and Oliver said that the cockles shouldn’t be on the dish.

Eddie managed to turn things around with his main course, Lawn Fayre. Veteran judge Michael Smith didn’t like the water buffalo however the judges loved it. They praised his use of the unusual meat and liked the cooking.

Dessert proved to be a shocking round. Tommy received 10 points from Michael for his pudding, New Balls Please, however the judges did not award it the same praise. Andi said that the strawberry cloud was “98% devoid of flavour” and Oliver said that it was bland.

The judges were more impressed by Eddie’s dessert, Drop Shot. They liked his white chocolate tennis balls and mousse but criticised the oxeye daisy granita.

After a tough tasting the judges announced that Tommy and his creative menu were going through to the national finals. That meant that Eddie went home, but he said he was pleased with his second attempt at the competition and felt he’d done all he could.

Tommy Heaney, Great British Menu 2017
Tommy Heaney

With all the contestants waiting to take centre court in the national finals, who will win the match?

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2017 here

By Monica Turnbull

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull

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Editor 26th June 2017

Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - Northern Ireland heat