Great British Menu 2018 blog by Cameron Huck – London & South East heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Great British Menu is back and the contestants this week are from London and the South East of England. 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 James Cochran who will soon be opening  Restaurant 1251; Selin Kiazim co-owner and chef of Oklava and Kyseri and Scott Goss who is chef patron of The Twenty Six

Week 2 of the Great British Menu has arrived and with it, a whole new host of chefs, all of whom are competing to be a part of the illustrious banquet celebrating 70 years of the NHS.

To be in with a chance of being at the banquet though, the chefs would have to impress the discerning veteran judge of the week, Tom Aikens. On the first day, all the chefs had to make a starter, hoping to wow Tom and get an early lead in the competition.

First to be introduced was returning chef, Selin Kiazim. Selin did, in fact, reach the banquet last year and this year hopes to be the first female chef to reach it for the second time. Coming from her restaurant Oklava she intended to use her Turkish-Cypriote roots to inspire her dishes.

Her starter was named ‘Humble Beginnings to Gold Standard’ in honour of NHS founder Aneurin Bevan’s humble beginnings. Her dish was a take on a Turkish style breakfast which was served with a truffle and artichoke yoghurt alongside eggs slow-cooked at 63C exactly.

gbm london selin dish

>>> recipes from Selin Kiazim here 

Next in was James Cochran of 1251. Having honed his skills in two-Michelin starred The Ledbury, James began his Great British Menu journey with a dish dedicated to his late mother and the treatment she received from NHS staff.
Called ‘Cep-tional’ the dish focused on mushrooms in different forms. Four different types of mushrooms cooked 5 ways to be exact. There was a brioche, a cigar with mushroom yoghurt and truffle mayonnaise in this luxurious dish.

gbm london james dish

>>> recipes from James Cochran here 

Last in and up to the pass was Scott Goss. Coming from The Twenty Six he has worked under Gary Rhodes and Anton Adelman to name but a few.

He came into the kitchen to make his dish, simply named ‘We Owe It All To You’. Taking inspiration from a cup of tea with a jammy dodger, Scott made a savoury version of this sweet treat. The dodger itself was made up of a parmesan biscuit filled with a beetroot and port jam. This was served alongside tea smoked duck and a rehydrated cep tea.

gbm london scott dish

>>> recipes from Scott Goss here 

When it came to the scores, Tom Aikens was ruthless in his criticism. While he said the egg in Selin’s dish was not too wet, he thought the dish was too simple for the banquet. James was praised for his mushrooms but Tom found his brioche too dense. Lastly, the judge was a fan of Scott’s idea but did not see it as a cohesive dish. As a result, Selin and James were both given a 7 while Scott was given a 6.

The fish course

The second day of the second week of the Great British Menu had the Great British Menu chefs preparing their fish courses, to try and get those all important points so they could get into this week’s regional final. 

James Cochran gave himself a lot to do in the first day and the second day continued that trend. His plate of food was a Caribbean-inspired dish called ‘Windrush’ after the many Caribbean passengers aboard the HMS Windrush in 1948. 
Up to the pass first James dish comprised of a number of elements.

These included lobsters which was first steamed then barbequed and flavoured with whiskey and Douglas Fir. This was alongside a pickled apple which was blowtorched just before service and crispy sea veg. He did face disaster however when his first lobster overcooked in the steamer and then decided to cook a whole new lobster which really pushed him for time.

gbm James windrush day 3

>>> See recipes from James Cochran here 

Second up was Selin, in equal first place with James she hoped that her dish ‘Live Well’, would be enough to elevate her to first place. Inspired by the potential benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, she had her work cut out for her with three complex parts.

Scallops, sardines and langoustine were all in her dish. The scallops were lightly cured with lime juice and zest and were served in a scallop shell with a melon salad. The sardines were marinated with a chairman spice rub and citrus juice. The langoustines were served on a flatbread with kohlrabi.

Just before service Selin barbequed her langoustine heads and then placed them alongside the flatbread, with the intention that the guest squeezes the head over the flatbread for extra flavour.

gbm Selin dish 2

>>>See recipes from Selin Kiazim here 

Last to serve was Scott Goss. After the first day Scott was behind the other two chefs by one point and so had to try and wow Tom Aikens to catch up to the other chefs. His fish dish named ‘My Everyday Hero’, dedicated to his mum it was a take on the classic fish pie. Inside the individual fish pies were the classic smoked haddock with a béchamel alongside a scallop. Instead of serving it with a mash potato crust, however, Scott chose to place a rarebit over the top and serve it all in a scallop shell.

GBM Scott day 3

>>> See recipes from Scott Goss here 

When it came to the scores, Tom continued to maintain his exceptionally high standards.

In fact, all three chefs scored a 6. James was praised for the interesting mix of the Douglas Fir, whiskey and lobster but Tom found his presentation clumsy. Selin’s food was commended for its flavours but the box it was served in was hard to eat out of which affected her score. Lastly, Scott’s dish was served in too plain a fashion, according to Tom, and there was too much of the rarebit on his dish, which made it too rich after a few mouthfuls.

The main course

The third day of the second week had the Great British Menu chefs showcasing their main courses. After a disappointing second day, all the chefs wanted to really raise the bar on the penultimate day before the regional final.

Selin was first to serve up her dish, called ‘Our Global NHS’. It was inspired by the wide range of nationalities in the staff of the NHS and so had ingredients from these countries. Her dish included Aylesbury duck, which Selin roasted with Baharat spices. It was served with a prune and sherry sauce that signified Spain and two types of cabbage, one from Ireland and one from Poland. Selin only would know how the duck was cooked when it was carved on the pass, and unfortunately for her, it was noticeably overcooked.

Selin dish day 3

>>>Take a look at the recipes from Selin Kiazim here 

Scott, who was one point behind the other two chefs after the fish course, knew he had to really impress Tom to give himself the best chance to reach the regional final. His dish, ‘To Your Health and Happiness’, was dedicated to the unsung NHS heroes, particularly blood runners. Focused around the rare Tamworth breed of pork, Scott roasted the pork and surprisingly served it with a tomato fondue instead of a gravy.

Scott dish day 3

>>> Take a look at the recipes from Scott Goss here 

Last up was James. Once again taking inspiration from his Caribbean heritage he made a sharing dish as well. He cooked lots of cuts of goat, ranging from the saddle, shanks and haunch he utilised a variety of cooking methods to add to his dish. He served it with a number of accompaniments which included a black eye pea dahl and a home-made scotch bonnet jam.

James dish day 3

>>> Take a look at the recipes from James Cochran here 

When veteran chef Tom came to judge Selin’s dish he celebrated the story behind the dish and the two cabbage elements. However, Tom said the fact the duck was overcooked was a huge disappointment.

Scott, when he received Tom Aiken’s verdict, was told he did a good job with both the crackling and the pork. But, Tom was not a fan of the tomato fondue, stating he would have rather had a nice gravy or jus.

James received positive feedback for the most part however, Tom mentioned that the name of the dish, which was entitled  ‘Under the Knife, was a bit distasteful. However, Tom said that all the elements were perfectly cooked.

Tom, who had for the previous two days been a harsh scorer, gave his highest scores of the week on the third day. Scott received a 7, Selin an 8 and James scored a hugely impressive 9.

The dessert

On the final day before the regional finals, there were only a few points in it. James Cochran led the way on 22, Selin was close behind on 21 and Scott Goss was in last position on 19.

First up was Scott, who had to make the dessert of his life to guarantee his progress. He took inspiration from a Kentish classic, Gypsy Tart which he served with honey ice cream and crystallised rose petals.

Great British Menu 2018 - London dessert- Scott Goss

Selin, who was the dessert champion last year, had a lot to live up to. During her research she learnt of the staple NHS staff food, tea and toast and so she decided to base her dessert on that. Named ‘A Moment of Peace’, it was made up of toast ice cream, a pear terrine and an earl grey caramel. It was served with a cup of tea.

Great British Menu 2018 - London dessert - Selin Kiazim toast ice cream

James made a technically complex dish for his last dish before the regional final. Once again, he used his Caribbean roots for inspiration for his dessert; ‘Tree Of Life’. He made a coconut parfait which he coated with toasted peanuts and white chocolate and freeze-dried mango. On the side, he made little doughnuts filled with a rotten mango puree.

Great British Menu 2018 - London dessert - James Cochran

When the feedback was given, Scott was praised for the story behind his dish and the candied rose petals. Unfortunately however, Tom deemed the dish as too sugary with both the ice cream and tart. Also, Tom didn’t find the dish exquisite enough for the banquet.

Selin similarly was lauded for the story behind her dessert and the originality of the toast ice cream. Tom was not a fan of the cup of tea component though.

Great British Menu 2018 - London dessert

James did not receive as much praise as the others but Tom did say that he enjoyed the coconut, mango and peanut flavour combinations. Tom Aikens mentioned that the story was not clear without the addition of a note explaining the tree of life. The most disappointing thing for James was the fact that one of the doughnuts he served didn’t have any mango filling.

Once all of the dishes had been tasted, it was time to find out who had made it into the regional final. James made it through with a score of 7, leaving the last place to one of Selin and Scott. Selin was awarded an 8, meaning that Scott, who received a 6, was eliminated.

Regional final London and South East

Day five of the second week of the Great British Menu had returning champion, Selin Kiazim of Oklava pitted against James Cochran from 1251 to see who would make it through to the national finals.

Joining the esteemed and exacting judging panel of Andi Oliver, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton was Jenny Turner. Jenny, who is the longest serving nurse in the NHS, had plenty of praise and criticism for the all the dishes.

great british menu 2018 london final

The chefs were able to make adjustments to their dishes following the feedback they were given by Tom Aikens and for nearly all the dishes the chefs made changes.

Starting with both the starter and fish courses, James made the smart choice to add confit onion to his brioche, which led to all the judges loving his starter. He also decided to change the presentation of his fish course, this course also went down very well with the judges.

Selin added flags to her fish course to side in order to help guide the judges through the meal. While this worked and the judges found the combination of scallops and melon inspired, the other two elements of the dish were not as highly regarded.

Moving on to the latter two courses, James did not fare as well, while Selin did far better.

great british menu 2018

James main course, ‘Under the Knife’, had been the highest scoring dish of the week. This time it did not go down as well. Jenny was not a fan of the roti and found all the goat cuts tasted similar. However, Matthew Fort did have a positive, saying that the ‘black eyed peas are simply divine’. His dessert was not as well received either, both Oliver Peyton and Jenny Turner couldn’t taste the coconut while all the judges wished for more fermented mango in the doughnuts.

Selin did much better in her main course, which Andi Oliver said was the dish of the day. She had overcooked the duck earlier in the week but it was vastly better this time around. It was so much better that Oliver Peyton said the dish was all perfect and Jenny found it to be a ‘voyage of discovery’. Selin made changes to her dessert after Tom Aikens criticised her choice of adding a cup of tea. So instead she made a gin and earl grey cocktail to accompany her dessert. It was well received but Matthew Fort did say it ‘doesn’t send thrill down my spine’.

great british menu 2018

After this all that was left to find out who made it through, which turned out to be James Cochran. He will now join Daniel Fletcher in finals week.


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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th August 2018

Great British Menu 2018 blog by Cameron Huck – London & South East heat