Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - Wales heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th June 2017

The Great British Menu 2017 competition is close to home this week as the Welsh contestants compete for their chance to cook for the judges and serve their food at the Wimbledon banquet.

Last night saw Great British Menu contestants 2017 Paul Croasdale, of Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen competing against former boss Phil Carmichael, of Berner’s Tavern. They were joined by Nick Brodie, head chef at Llangoed Hall on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. The chefs are being scored by Michelin-starred chef, Tom Aikens.

Phil Carmichael, Paul Croasdale and Nick Brodie, Great British Menu 2017
Phil Carmichael, Paul Croasdale and Nick Brodie

First to serve was Nick, with his dish The Constant Gardner. The creation consisted of five cuts of rabbit and carrot served seven different ways. For a seemingly simple dish – only having two ingredients – this was surprisingly complex. Nick shook under the pressure.

He served carrot puree, carrot ketchup, carrot and red cabbage powder and miniature carrots. He also plated up sliced rabbit offal, grated carrot, shimeji mushrooms and micro leaves. He topped this with rabbit foam.

After being four minutes late to serve, Tom questioned whether the dish would be suitable for the banquet. The chefs said that the dish hit the ‘taste of summer brief’ as it looked summery, with vibrant colours, but lacked flavour. Tom agreed, saying that some of the flavours were too subtle.

>>> Get the recipe for Nick's The Constant Gardener here

Next to the pass was returning contender, Phil, who has competed twice already. Phil’s dish, The Greenhouse, included scorched baby onion, black olive crumble, tomato jelly, varieties of tomato seeds and marinated tomatoes, balsamic gel and micro leaves. Separately he served stuffed oxheart tomatoes in a greenhouse cloche. He accompanied it with toasted focaccia.

Sadly Phil’s jelly turned back into consommé and swam around his pretty plate. Despite the jelly wobble, Tom liked the rich flavour of the stuffed tomato and the chefs were impressed with his effort.

Phil Carmichael's starter, The Greenhouse, Great British Menu 2017
Phil Carmichael's starter, The Greenhouse

Last to serve was Paul. His dish, Mum, Dad’s Gone Surfing Again, was Paul’s refined take on soup and a sandwich. For his version of the sandwich he baked fuille de brick topped with Jerusalem artichoke puree, grated parmesan and truffle. He also served tomato consommé in teapots and bowls filled with minestrone mixture.

While Tom thought the portion was too big, he said that there were a lot of good flavours. Paul, while admitting that the dish was too big for a starter, was pleased with his dish.

When Tom gave the scores it was Phil who finished at the top for his summery starter, receiving nine points. Nick was given a score of eight for his dish while Paul finished in last place for his dish with seven points.

>>> Get the recipe for Phil's The Greenhouse here

There are only two points between the contestants so the chance to cook for the judges is still very much up for grabs. It looks set to be another close week!

It was the battle of the mackerel as the Great British Menu Welsh contestants 2017 tried to hit their best serve and take the lead in the regional heat.

Contestants Paul Croasdale, formerly of Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen (who is planning to open his own restaurant), and ex-boss Phil Carmichael, of Berners Tavern, are competing against Nick Brodie, head chef at Llangoed Hall on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.

The three are competing to make it to Friday night’s regional final and cook for the judges, and earn the chance to serve their ‘taste of summer’ inspired dishes at a banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships.

They are being scored by Michelin-starred chef and competition veteran, Tom Aiken.

First to serve was returning contestant Phil who is determined to win this year. Mackerel In Summer Flavours was a tribute to the classic summer cup. He served blow torched mackerel cured in summer cup brine with mackerel tartar on discs of pickled mooli. This was accompanied by crème fraiche and cucumber powder.

Great British Menu 2017
Phil Carmichael serving up his fish course, Mackerel In Summer Flavours to Tom Aikens

The pretty plate was hailed for hitting the brief as it looked very summery. Unfortunately Tom was disappointed in the flavours, saying he couldn’t taste the summer cup cure on the fish.

>>> Get the recipe for Phil's Mackerel In Summer Flavours here

Next to the pass was Paul, who was keen to make up points with his offering, The Royal Box. He was so committed to doing so that he learnt to play Real Tennis, hoping it would give him a flavour of the regal history of the game.

Paul served water bathed, barbecued king crab and pickled queen scallops with yoghurt, compressed cucumber and salsa verde. He drizzled with lemon puree and served in a gold box to highlight the royal connection.

Tom was impressed with the cooking of the king crab though he said he wanted to taste more of the lemon puree and that the elderflower was too subtle.

Paul's The Royal Box, Great British Menu 2017
Paul Croasdale's The Royal Box

>>> Get the recipe for Paul's The Royal Box here

Last to the pass was Nick, with the second mackerel dish of the evening, The Boat Trip, inspired by his childhood summer memories of mackerel fishing. 

He plated up blow torched mackerel drizzled with lemon juice. Onto this he piped rice wine vinegar gel, pickled cucumber, nectarine, and radish segments. It was finished with pickled mooli with Oscietra caviar, tomato seeds and sea purslane as well as a selection of leaves and shoots.

Unfortunately for Nick he forgot one important component, tomato ketchup. Tom thought the dish was delicious, but Nick was “gutted” that he forgot the tomato ketchup.

>>> Get the recipe for Nick's Boat Trip here

When the scores were called it was Phil who dropped the ball, only scoring seven points. Paul and Nick were both awarded eight points for their fishy offerings. That means that going into the main course Phil and Nick both have 16 points while Paul is just one behind with 15.

The battle lines have been drawn for the next course.

Lamb took centre stage as the Great British Menu Welsh regional heat came down to the wire when the contestants cooked main course.

Great British Menu contestants 2017 Paul Croasdale, who is aiming to open his own restaurant, returning contestant Phil Carmichael, of Berners Tavern and Nick Brodie, head chef at Llangoed Hall, had just one point between them going into the main course round.

They are keen to impress competition veteran and Michelin-starred chef, Tom Aikens, in the hope of cooking for the judges tomorrow night and be in with the chance of serving their food at a banquet celebrating 140 years of the Wimbledon Championships.

As well as the scores being neck and neck, the contestants all chose to cook lamb for their ‘taste of summer’ main courses, making the judging even more difficult for Tom, who said that the contestants “need to strive for perfection”, leaving some of them, literally, shaking.

First to the pass was Phil with his sharing dish, Fired! He barbecued lamb accompanied by refined side dishes of coleslaw, potato salad and cream cheese. Sounds satisfying at least.

Despite his reservations about the sophistication of the dish, Tom was impressed with the presentation and the chefs thought it had the wow factor. They were also impressed with how refined the potato salad was.

Phil Carmichael and Tom Aikens, Great British Menu 2017
Phil Carmichael and Tom Aikens

>>> Get the recipe for Phil's Fired! dish here

Next to serve was Paul with his complex dish with a complicated name: Wimbledon: 1884, 1913, 1960 which honoured key dates in Wimbledon’s history. 

Paul plated up lamb – cooked in a water bath and barbecued – with mint sauce and garlic puree, morels and baby gem hearts. He added sheep curd and home-cured mutton ham. This was garnished with samphire and pea flowers.

The chefs thought that the dish was pretty but needed something more to explain the title clearly. Paul, anxious to know what Tom thought of the dish, said “give something away, please”. He was very relieved to hear that he liked the way the lamb was cooked.

Last to plate up was Nick with his dish The Brecon Beacons, The Garden of Wales, which was a tribute to summer lamb. Nick served fried sweetbreads and water-bathed lamb loins on chive mayonnaise, potatoes, Swiss chard and peas. To finish he drizzled over lamb jus and olive oil.

Despite being “refined” and “stunning” Nick’s dish hit the net as the lamb was a little undercooked. However Tom did acknowledge that the sweetbreads were cooked well.

Nick Brodie's main course, Great British Menu 2017
Nick Brodie's The Brecon Beacons: The Garden Of Wales

>>> Get the recipe for Nick's The Brecon Beacons: The Garden Of Wales dish here

When the scores were given it was another close call, leaving just two points between the chefs. Phil took the lead with nine points for his impressive barbecue course; Nick was awarded eight points, despite the criticism of his lamb and Paul fell into third place with seven points for his complex dish.

The Welsh heat is down to the wire entering the dessert course with each competitive chef determined to make it to the final.

It was judgement day in the Great British Menu kitchen as the desserts decided who made it through to cook for the judges.

It’s been an unbelievably close week for the Great British Menu contestants 2017 during the Welsh regional heat but competition veteran and Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens finally used his hawk eye to decide who was in and who was out.

First to the pass was Paul Croasdale who pushed himself to the limit in the hope of serving Tom a perfect dessert. A Peach Of A Serve, combined pulled peach sugar, goats curd mousse, peach tartar, peach slices, basil pesto and basil sorbet.

The pretty offering was praised for presentation. Nick said “the colours are banging”. Unfortunately for Paul, nerves got to him and he forgot to add his meringues which he said would have finished the dish off perfectly. Oh dear…

Next up was Nick Brodie, of Llangoed Hall. He was also determined to serve an ace with his dessert Apple Scrumping, was inspired by his childhood summers, which he hoped would hit the ‘taste of summer’ brief.

Nick piped chocolate sauce onto a plate to look like an apple tree. How creative? Onto this he placed caramelised apples, white chocolate mousse dipped in green apple gel to look like an apple, caramel powder and frozen crème anglaise. He garnished with apple blossom.

Nick Broadie, Great British Menu 2017
Nick Brodie's Apple Scrumping

The pretty dish exhibited a host of impressive technical skills which Tom picked up on. However he asked Nick if it was all necessary, to which he answered “most definitely”. He had confidence in his dish! The chefs thought some of the flavours were a little boozy but weren’t convinced that the apple dish was suitable for summer. 

>>> Get the recipe for Nick's Apple Scrumping here

Last to plate up was returning contestant Phil Carmichael, of Berners Tavern, whose dish was the epitome of a Wimbledon dessert. It even came with tennis racquets.

Game, Set & Massive Mess comprised layers of champagne mousses with green sprinkles and Eton mess hidden inside an edible tennis ball made of meringue. He finished by decorating with rice paper tennis racquets.

Tom said the dessert was a little on the generous side but he liked the flavour of the summer cup. The chefs thought that Phil had “100% nailed the brief”. The champagne layers were also described as stunning.

Phil Carmichael
Phil Carmichael putting the finishes touches to his dessert, Game, Set & Massive Mess

>>> Get the recipe for Phil's Game, Set & Massive Mess here

After an excruciatingly close competition, Tom revealed who had won the match. With nine points, giving him a total of 34, Phil was put straight through to cook for the judges. Joining him is Nick, who scored seven, giving him a total of 31 points. Paul also scored seven, giving him 29 points and sending him home. Tom told him he could go home “with his head held high” after a close competition.

The game and sets may have been won, but the match is still to play for tonight!

Battle lines were drawn in the Great British Menu kitchen as the Welsh heat drew to a close and the formidable panel of judges chose their regional champion.

It’s been a week of highs and lows for the Great British Menu contestants 2017 meaning that competitors Phil Carmichael, of Berners Tavern, and Nick Brodie, of Llangoed Hall, really had to pull their ace out of the bag to impress the judges.

Restaurateurs Andi Oliver and Oliver Peyton, and food critic Matthew Fort were joined by guest judge Dan Bloxham, Master of Ceremonies at the All England Tennis Club. He set his judging standards high using the club motto ‘in pursuit of greatness’ and saying that he expected the chefs to put in the same effort as the players. There was no hiding for the contestants at this judging.

When the starters were served the judges had reservations about both dishes: they liked the theatre of Phil’s cloche but weren’t fond of the ox heart tomato. And while they thought that Nick’s dish was visually stunning, Andi wasn’t keen on the rabbit and struggled to find a kidney on her plate.

There was a winner of the fish course as the judges said that Phil’s mackerel dish was divine and all scored it 10 points! They had hesitations about Nick’s mackerel dish, with Andi saying that the texture was “a bit mushy” (don’t hold back). Matthew struggled to spoon the consommé and threw his table manners out of the window by drinking it off the plate.

Matthew Fort, Great British Menu 2017
Matthew Fort

Next Nick served his main course of summer lamb, The Brecon Beacons: The Garden of Wales, next. The judges loved the flavours and Oliver gave the dish special praise as he liked how rare the meat was, though Matthew wasn’t so sure, saying “I’m not sure I didn’t hear it bleat as I picked it up off the plate.” 

When Phil’s main course descended upon the judges they were overwhelmed by the buffet before them; Dan joked that the barbecue might be a healthy and safety issue on centre court. They thought it may need more refining to be suitable for the banquet but enjoyed the fun element of the dish.

Nick took heed of Tom Aikens’ advice and swapped apples for strawberries for his dessert. The gamble seemed to pay off as the judges enjoyed the white chocolate and mousse pudding. However he lost the set as they were blown away by Phil’s Game, Set & Massive Mess which was a celebration of Wimbledon, champagne and all.

The judges deliberated over who to put through to the final but were so impressed with Phil’s skills that they gave the returning competitor a third chance at success and put him through to the final. As for first timer Nick, they said that they hoped to see him again in the future.

By Monica Turnbull

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th June 2017

Great British Menu 2017 Blog by Monica Turnbull - Wales heat