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

The Staff Canteen

It was experience versus talent as three more contestants entered The Great British Menu kitchen to serve up some inventive starters for their chance to cook at the Wimbledon banquet.

This week is the South West heat of the competition, and the Great British Menu 2017 chefs cooked for veteran judge Michael O’Hare an array of colourful starters, competing for their chance to cook at a banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships.

Hoping it'll be his third time lucky in the competition is Dom Chapman, chef owner of The Beehive, White Waltham which was awarded two rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide 2017. Dom also previously worked at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin starred pub, The Hind’s Head.

Competing for the first time is Tom Brown, head chef at Outlaw’s at The Capital, Nathan Outlaw’s Michelin starred restaurant in Knightsbridge. Tom got his first taste of high-end cooking after writing to former Great British Menu winner, Bryn Williams, who invited him to London to experience his kitchen.

>>>Related: Tom Brown, Head Chef, Outlaw's at the Capital

Also entering the competition for the first time is Andy Clatworthy, who started working in kitchens at the young age of thirteen. Having honed his skills in a variety of restaurants, he has now relocated to Copenhagen to work in 108 Copenhagen, the sister restaurant to Noma Copenhagen.

Veteran judge Michael O'Hare and contestant Tom Brown Great British Menu 2017
Tom Brown explains his starter to veteran judge Michael O'Hare

Tom, from Cornwall, was first to serve. To meet the brief ('A Taste Of Summer') his menu reflects memories of his summers growing up. His fishy starter was a take on Cowl Bysk, using lobster and a tomato tea. The chefs described the dish as visually stunning; Michael didn’t criticise the cooking, but did say that once the tomato tea was poured onto the other ingredients, any efforts at presentation were lost. The chefs said it may be chosen as the fish dish.

Next to serve was Dom, whose flowery dish It’s A Summer Bonanza, used twelve ingredients and celebrated seasonal garden produce. The only problem was that those ingredients didn’t, according to Michael and the chefs, sit well with the dollop of truffle and black olive ricotta they were served with. And it curdled.

Dominic Chapman Great British Menu 2017
Dominic Chapman's It's A Summer Bonanza

>>> Get Dom's It's A Summer Bonanza recipe here

Fun guy Andy was the last to plate up his starter Walking On Wimbledon Common, which featured seven mushroom elements. Despite saying “it’s not bland”, Michael said that the dish was more autumn than summer, and he hadn’t hit the brief at all.

Dominic Chapman and Tom Brown try Andy Clatworthy's dish, Great British Menu 2017
Dom Chapman and Tom Brown try Andy's dish

>>> See the recipe for Andy's Walking Through Wimbledon Common here

Tom took the top marks – seven points - as Michael said he couldn’t fault the cooking of the Cowl Bysk, but he added that Tom needs to work on his presentation.

Dom’s was hailed the most vibrant, summery dish of the day, with his ricotta-stuffed courgette flower letting him down. He was scored six points.

Michael said that Andy’s dish “was the most inventive” but that he has completely missed the brief, and he wasn’t a fan of the chewy rye bread and scored him a five.

The South West is famed for its fine fish and seafood and judge Michael O’Hare was expecting great things from the chefs in last night’s fish course.

All eyes were on Tom Brown in particular, who works at Outlaw’s at the Capital – a Michelin-starred seafood restaurant. Tom said: “I’m going to look a bit silly if I don’t do well in this course, aren’t I?” He also held a one-point lead on his competitors; Dominic Chapman and Andy Clatworthy and he hoped to keep it that way.

Deciding to take on a bit of a challenge, Tom was cooking a mackerel dish called Soused Breal and Scrumpy – a nod to his Cornish roots. He was making a mackerel paté, topped with raw mackerel and covered in apple cider jelly. He served this with his own soda bread, made with black treacle and buttermilk.

Dominic Chapman was focussing particularly on the brief  (A Taste of Summer) with his fish course, inspired by childhood memories of summers in Dorset.‘Fishing the Cobb combined many luxury elements – crystallised seaweed, a pan-fried fillet of turbot, scallops and sea vegetables. He knew he was running a bit of a risk with so many complicated ingredients that all needed rather precise cooking last minute.

Tom Brown and Dom Chapman Great British Menu 2017
Dom Chapman prepares Fishing the Cobb

Andy Clatworthy was hoping to claw back the points with his fish course For The Ladies and Gentry, a tribute to the first time women were allowed to compete at Wimbledon. The lobster was the star of Andy’s dish - breaded claws, paprika and vanilla knuckles and bisque made from the shells. He too was cooking crispy seaweed, but deep-fried and flavoured with five-spice, hoping to associate the flavours with that of a Chinese takeaway.

>>> Related: Lobster recipes

Though a humble fish, Michael O’Hare was intrigued by Tom’s dish, combining raw and cooked elements of mackerel. He was however concerned that his pâté may be too runny.

Dominic was working on a seaweed emulsion to tie all of his ingredients together and in the battle of the seaweed, things were getting tense as Andy had burnt a couple of his lobster shells. Would this affect the flavour of his bisque?

Dom was first to the pass, cooking the turbot and scallops last minute. A colourful, summery dish, the other chefs were very impressed with the cooking of the scallops and seemed a bit nervous after tasting it! Judge Michael also added that the turbot was “a really nice piece of fish”.

>>> Get Dom's Fishing the Cobb recipe here

Tom was up next and quickly grilled his mackerel fillets. Michael thought it was more like a starter than a main fish dish and was worried about how much paté there was. Dom thought that the soda bread might have been a bit underdone but Tom felt it came out how he had wanted it to.

Last but not least was Andy Clatworthy with his complex lobster dish. Michael O'Hare was impressed with the cooking of the lobster tail but felt that the claw may have been a bit undercooked.  Andy wished he had made the dish a bit simpler and was disappointed with his sauce.

Andy Clatworthy Great British Menu 2017
Andy Clatworthy's For the Ladies & Gentry

>>> Get Andy's For the Ladies and Gentry recipe here

Michael awarded Tom an eight, Andy a six and Dom a high nine. He stressed that he wanted to see lighter summer flavours that really hit the brief from the chefs going forward. This means that Dom and Tom are level pegging on fifteen points each and Andy is four points behind.

As the final draws closer, all eyes were on chefs Dom and Tom last night to see who would come out on top in the latest instalment of this week’s Great British Menu.

Last night veteran judge, Michael O’Hare was looking for the chefs to deliver an “essence of summer on a plate” with their main courses.

After achieving the highest score out of the chefs on Tuesday for his fish course, Dom was looking to replicate this with his main. His Fire Up the Barbecue was the first up to the pass but he needed a little help from fellow competitor, Tom to plate up in time. When asked by Michael what score he would give it Dom said he wanted a 9.5. 

>>> Get Dom's Fire Up The Barbecue recipe here

Although the dish looked summery Michael O’Hare was sceptical saying there was “no theatre” to the dish and that it was a touch too “simple”, he did, however compliment the bright and summery salad.

Andy Clatworthy was next, trailing behind in third place he had a lot to prove and hoped his Caneton D’Aylesbury Roti would hit the mark and finally get him the points he needed to catch up with his peers. Michael and the other chefs agreed that it was definitely Andy’s most summery and colourful dish yet but Michael also thought there were too many heavy proteins and his duck sausage was “overworked” and “lacked flavour.”

Tom Brown and Andy Clatworthy, Great British Menu 2017
Tom Brown and Andy Clatworthy

Lastly up to the pass was Cornish chef, Tom. Level pegging with Dom after Tuesday’s fish course Tom was hoping to impress with a refined version of his family’s Porthilly Under Roast. Michael feared the dish would be a too heavy in order to hit the brief but he enjoyed the way it was intended to be eaten and said “the beef was cooked to perfection” and that it was a "beautiful and clever plate of food." 

Porthilly Under Roast, Tom Brown, Great British Menu 2017
Tom Brown's Porthilly Under Roast

>>> Get Tom's Porthilly Under Roast recipe here 

Despite initial concerns that his family’s under roast would not be light and summery enough, Michael awarded Tom a perfect score putting him in first place on the leaderboard! Dom is not far behind having scored seven points for his Fire up the barbecue but Andy Clatworthy has fallen behind after being scored six points for his Caneton D’Aylesbury Roti, but there’s still one more day left and one more course to impress.

Inspired by summertime, all three chefs made strawberry desserts, and one shocks all by using a strong savoury herb in his dessert.

Veteran judge Michael O’Hare was looking for an inventive, creative and fun dessert that still shows off the taste of summer.

Andy Clatworthy and judge Michael O'Hare, Great British Menu 2017
Andy Clatworthy explaining his dessert to judge Michael O'Hare

First up was Andy Clatworthy who shocked his fellow chefs with the use of lovage in his dessert for two Doubles – Back and Forth. Andy paired the lovage cake, representing a Wimbledon tennis court, with citric acid and orange meringues, malt cream, candied lemon peel, and cucumber sugar syrup. Although his malt cream split at first, the second time around Andy nailed it, and the chefs were impressed with Andy’s lovage sponge, but not so much with the mint and salt marinated strawberries. Overall, Tom and Dom thought Andy’s Doubles – Back and Forth really showed off Andy’s creativity.

>>>Get Andy's Doubles Back & Forth Recipe here

Tom Brown hoped to repeat his perfect 10 with a Cornish strawberry and clotted cream dessert, Sevy and Leti. Tom made ice cream sandwich filled with strawberry jam, brandy snap biscuits, and a sparkling rosé wine jelly. Despite initially worrying about the timings for the parfait and the jelly, Tom managed to pull it off, and impressed judge Michael O’Hare with his bubbly jelly. Although Michael was not too excited with the visual presentation, chefs Dom and Andy liked the cleanness of it. But all chefs agree that Tom’s parfait and brandy snaps were great.

>>>Get Tom's Sevi and Leti Recipe here

Tom Brown's strawberry and clotted cream dessert 'Sevi and Leti', Great British Menu 2017
Tom Brown's strawberry and clotted cream dessert 'Sevi and Leti', Great British Menu 2017

Dom Chapman went back to traditional British desserts with Strawberry Sun Dancing, and made syllabub, topped with almond tuile, candied pistachio nuts, served with fresh strawberries, raspberries, strawberry sauce, and strawberry doughnuts. All chefs were excited about the jam-filled doughnuts, but felt that they were underproved and too messy for a prestigious banquet.

>>>Get Dom's Strawberry Sun Dancing Recipe here

In the end, Tom got 9 points for his well balanced Sevi and Leti, getting through to the regional finals, while Dom got 7 and Andy got 5.

The means that Andy was sent home, so tonight, Tom and Dom will make their whole menu again for judges Oliver Peyton, Matthew Fort, and restauranteur Andi Oliver! 

After Friday's cook-off, it was Tom Brown who went through to finals week. He impressed the judges with his fish course and his dessert, but he'll need to step it up a gear if he wants to get them to the banquet. 

By Monica Turnbull

Twitter: @monica_turnbull

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2017 here



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