Great British Menu 2018 blog by Cameron Huck – Central heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th September 2018

The Great British Menu is back and the contestants this week are from the Central region. The chefs have begun the battle to get the chance to cook at a banquet honouring 70 years of the NHS.

Entering the kitchen this week were Marianne Lumb, who announced that she was leaving the eponymous Marianne restaurant last month; Ryan Simpson-Trotman, chef-owner of Orwells Restaurant in Shiplake and Sabrina Gidda, executive chef at Allbright.

Week 4 of the Great British Menu involved the chefs from the Central region. The three Great British Menu chefs all came in vying for a spot in this week’s regional final.  Sabrina Gidda, Marianne Lamb and Ryan Simpson-Trotman all knew the brief, which was to create dishes celebrating the NHS’ heroic staff.

The veteran judge for this week was Daniel Clifford, chef patron of Midsummer House in Cambridge and The Flitch of Bacon in Essex. He is also a two-time Great British Menu winner.

Marianne Lamb was a finalist on Masterchef: The Professionals in 2009. She was classically trained in restaurants including Gravetye Manor before opening the restaurant Marianne 2013.

She was up first with her dish based around humble ingredients, namely potato and onion. She did add a large heaping of luxury to it though with generous amounts of truffle. Made up of confit onion, jacket potato skin foam and truffles, it would really have to pack a punch to wow the veteran judge.

marianne dish

>>> recipes from Marianne Lumb here


Sabrina Gidda who was made executive chef at Albright in July 2018 has a wealth of experience has been involved in competitive cooking before in the Roux Scholarship competition.

She took inspiration from Japanese cuisine with her dish ‘Chicken Soup’. Involving gyoza, langoustine and a chicken consommé it really was a decadent take on a classic chicken soup.

chicken soup

>>> recipes from Sabrina Gidda here


Ryan Simpson-Trotman, head chef and co-owner of Orwells Restaurant in Shiplake could actually end up competing against his other half later in the competition if he makes it through.

Today he made the controversial choice to make a dish that looks like a starter for his dessert. He made doughnuts stuffed with pork cheek served with a brown sauce ice cream. He had a lot of issues with the ice cream though, the ice cream maker was initially just on the cleaning mode and then, after fixing that when it came to service the ice cream was over frozen.

apple per day

>>> recipes from Ryan Simpson-Trotman here

After Daniel Clifford had tasted all the dishes and it was time for the chefs to receive their feedback. Marianne was praised for the first mouthful of her dish which was ‘delicious’ but became a bit samey on subsequent mouthfuls. Sabrina was lauded for her gyoza technique and her consommé, but Daniel found the langoustine to be under seasoned.

Last but not least, Daniel found Ryan’s dish creative and a good showcase of his technical skills but found the dish unrefined.

Then it was time for the scores. Marianne and Sabrina were both given a 7 each whilst Ryan was given a 6.

The fish course

Day 2 of the week for the Great British Menu can only mean one thing, its time for the fish course. After the starters, all the chefs were only one point apart meaning it really was all to play for.

Following a somewhat disappointing start, Ryan knew that he had to wow veteran judge Daniel Clifford with his fish course. He took inspiration from the many health benefits of fish, particularly omega 3. His plate was called ‘Goodbye Brainfog’. It involved a lot of big umami flavours and was made up of salmon which was marinated then barbequed and then finished off in duck fat. It was served alongside a miso dressing and caviar.

goodbye brain fog GBM Central

Marianne had made a starter utilising humble ingredients and decided to continue this trend/not continue with this trend with her fish course called: ‘St Mary’s, St Pierre and St Jacques’. Its inspiration was drawn from her own recent experience in hospital. It was made up of fennel, John Dory and scallops, which were both controversially cooked in celeriac puree and caviar.

>>> recipes from Marianne Lumb here 

st marys marianne dish GBM Central

Sabrina had already involved a fish in her starter and today decided to use her heritage as inspiration for her dish. Named ‘From Me To You’ the dish contained a whole host of ingredients including masala roasted turbot, Cornish crab and coconut curry and crispy fried shallots. The garam masala that Sabrina used was her mums own spice mix and Sarina hoped it would help make her dish that little bit more special.

sabrina from me to you gbm central

The chefs had a lot to do to make their dishes, but after they were all served up to Daniel Clifford all that was left was for the scores.

Ryan was praised for how his salmon was cooked but Daniel felt that another texture was needed to elevate the dish and so received an 8. Marianne’s John Dory was cooked to perfection, but Daniel found that the dish needed a touch of lemon to just enhance some of the flavours and was given a 9. Sabrina though was praised for the entirety of her dish. Daniel went as far as to say it was easily the best curry he ever had and gave her a 10!

The main course

Day 3 can only main one thing for the Great British menu chefs, it is mains day. Sabrina had a lot to live up to following her 10 in the fish course while Ryan knew that he had to get a high score to give himself a good chance of staying in the competition.

Being behind in the competition meant that Ryan really had to pull out all the stops today. His dish was focused entirely around muntjac and what it eats in the wild. Called ‘Just What the Doctor Ordered’, it involved muntjac in 4 different ways, as sausages, as a sauce, its loins and the rump. He served it alongside food a wild muntjac would eat, including mushrooms and elderberries, which were incorporated into the sauce.

Ryan just what the doc ordered


Sabrina was still riding the high from the day before and had a lot on her plate for her sharing dish, ‘A Family Feast’. An elevated roast it comprised of and stuffed saddle of lamb cooked en-croute and a number of sides including a shoulder of lamb and potato terrine. She did have a big problem though when she was preparing her saddle of lamb when she forgot to separate the fat membrane which meant it might not render during the cooking.

a family feast


Marianne dedicated her dish to Sir Peter Mansfield, the developer of the MRI and named it after him ‘Assiete of Game: Sir Peter Mansfield’. She cooked three types of wild game: muntjac, wild rabbit and grouse. She pan-fried the muntjac, sous vide the grouse and the wild rabbit was made into a cannelloni.

assiete of game

>>> recipes from Marianne Lumb here


First up to the pass was Ryan, and the only issue that Daniel found with it was that there wasn’t enough! In fact, Daniel said that everything on the plate was exquisite.

Second up was Sabrina and it didn’t go to plan for her. Daniel found that all the positives were ‘eclipsed by the disaster of the lamb en croute’ because the fat didn’t render at all in her pastry and Daniel found the potatoes bland and in needing of more seasoning.

Marianne, who scored highly the day before with a 9, was hoping for another high score. Daniel found the cooking of all three meat components to be faultless, however, the cannelloni needed more sauce and for the second time of the day Daniel found that the plate needed more food.

When it came to the scores Sabrina received a 5, Marianne received another 9 and incredibly Ryan was given the second 10 of the week for his dish.

The dessert course

On the fourth day, it was time for the chefs to make their dessert in their last ditch attempts to wow veteran judge Daniel Clifford.

All three chefs had a point to prove, Marianne wanted to push for her first 10 of the week while Ryan wanted to maintain his momentum and Sabrina wanted to regain hers after her main.

Marianne was very theatrical with her dish, ‘Carry on Dr Bakewell’. A sharing dessert made up of a bakewell soufflé served with a raspberry coulis in a syringe and semifreddo ‘tablets’.

Carry On Doctor Bakewell - dessert course by Marianne Lumb, Great British Menu 2018 dessert course for the Central region heat

>>> recipes from Marianne Lumb here

Second up was Sabrina, who took inspiration from a childhood favourite ‘Jelly and Ice Cream’. Made of a rhubarb and grenadine jelly with a white chocolate blancmange and a pistachio ice cream. She did have an issue when she was making her jelly because it wasn’t setting, so she took the risk to make it again from scratch with more gelatine.

Jelly and Ice Cream by chef Sabrina Gidda, Great British Menu 2018 dessert course for the Central region heat

Ryan wanted to get another 10 with his dish, ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’. He had a lot of complex elements involved in his dessert. He made a chocolate and olive oil ganache, candied hazelnuts, honeycomb, pulled chocolate tuilles, aerated chocolate and salted caramel ice cream. He served it with a hazelnut liqueur.

A spoonful of sugar by chef Ryan Simpson, Great British Menu 2018 dessert course for the Central region heat

Knowing that the scores they received would decide who made it through to the regional final, the chefs were under a lot of pressure. Daniel found that Marianne's inspiration really came through with her presentation, but the elegance of it was ruined when it came to serving the soufflé. He also found that the almond flavour of the bakewell was not prominent enough.

Sabrina was in last place in the lead up to dessert day so knew she had to pull it out of the bag to guarantee a place in the final. Daniel enjoyed how the blancmange and jelly were set but found the blancmange was too sweet and said that the overall dish lacked a ‘wow factor’.

Up last to the pass was Ryan. His complicated dessert showed Daniel a lot of skill and he redeemed himself with the salted caramel ice cream - after the issues he had with his brown sauce ice cream in the starter. However, Daniel found the overall dish too rich and said that it was needing a savoury element.

When it came to the scores, Marianne received a 7 meaning that she was going through. This left the last spot for one of either Sabrina or Ryan. Sabrina received a 6 and Ryan was given a 8. This meant that Ryan was going through to the regional final, alongside Marianne.

The Central regional final

Regional finals day for the central region was upon the remaining Great British Menu Chefs from the central region. Ryan and Marianne now had to impress the esteemed panel of judges to try and get a spot in the national finals.

Joining the exacting panel of judges was Daniel Smith, a consultant paramedic who was one of the first people on the scene at the Manchester bombing. He proved to be a very able judge.

great british menu 2018

Ryan and Marianne had received criticism for their dishes throughout the week from veteran judge Daniel Clifford and had the option to change up their dishes to try and impress the judges more.

For the starters, Ryan received mixed reviews, all the judges were big fans of the brown sauce ice cream which had gone wrong earlier in the week, but the judges were mixed in their opinions of his doughnuts. Marianne’s dish was labelled ‘super-luxe comfort food’ by Oliver Peyton and the judges found the dish to be overpowered by the truffle in it.

great british menu 2018

Ryan was criticised by Daniel for his fish course lacking a crispy texture so he added some crispy salmon skin to add to his dish, which the judges were big fans of. However, they weren’t sure all the techniques Ryan used complemented each other. Marianne made alterations to her dish as well. She decided to pan fry her scallops instead of sous vide following feedback earlier in the week and Andi Oliver found the dish to have ‘something kind of motherly about it’.

Onto the mains and the judges had varying opinions. Ryan’s main course parked debate as Matthew Fort was a fan of how the muntjac was cooked however the other judges preferred Mariannes cooking of it.

With the desserts, Ryan added a balsamic gel to cut through the richness of his dish. It must have worked because Daniel Smith stated that it was his favourite dish and Matthew thought it was a ‘fabulous note to end on’. Marianne did not fare quite as well. She heeded Daniel Cliffords advice by adding more almond to her bakewell soufflé but stuck to her guns by still only making one large soufflé as opposed to smaller individual ones. The judges were big fans of the wow factor of the dish but found the raspberry coulis a little overpowering.

great british menu 2018

Once all the dishes were served all that was left was to find out was who was going through to the regional final. It was Marianne who got the nod with the judges enjoying all her food. Unfortunately for Ryan this meant this was the second time he did not make it past the regional final.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 9th September 2018

Great British Menu 2018 blog by Cameron Huck – Central heat