Great British Menu 2018 blog by Cameron Huck - North East heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th August 2018

The Great British Menu is back and the contestants this week are from the North 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 Dan Fletcher, Head Chef of Fenchurch at the Skygarden; Danny Parker, from Michelin- starred restaurant Jesmond Dene House and David Coulson, who is the Head Chef at Peace and Loaf

The chefs were tasked with creating a starter fitting of the NHS’ birthday. Each of the chefs had to create a completely unique dish to present to the judge, Angela Hartnett.


First up to serve their dish was Danny.  Affectionately named ‘My NHS: North Teas’, which besides its clever wordplay, was dedicated to the workforce of his local hospital, who are shown on the beautifully crafted teapot served alongside the dish. Made up of pan-fried chicken wings, baby turnips, mushrooms, burnt onions and pickled turnips; garnished with mustard leaves and micro-kale the dish it was served with a clear chicken consommé which was put into the teapot.

>>> recipes from Danny Parker here 

can i get

Dan Fletcher was up next with a dish containing no less than thirty ingredients. It did, however, also contain a consommé served in a teapot which was flavoured with earl grey tea, star anise, juniper berries and pink peppercorns. Served on a tea tray it had three components, the consommé, duck cracker dressed with hazelnut mayonnaise and cured duck wrapped in sous vide celeriac paired with compressed pear.

>>> recipes from Dan Fletcher here 

GBM NE HEAT 1 david.jpg

Last up hoping to impress Angela was David. His dish, named in honour of those who donate their organs was named ‘I Signed Up Today, It Only Takes Two Minutes!’. Containing sweetbreads, both pan and deep fried along with black pudding three ways, dehydrated, pureed and as croutons. This was all arranged on a plate showing the anatomy of the top half of the body.

>>> recipes from David Coulson here 

Once they had all served their dishes to Angela it was time for the scores. David scored a 7 with Angela saying the plate worked well with the dish, even though she expressed her reservations about the plate choice prior to seeing it. Dan scored an 8 with Angela saying the duck cracker worked very well with the tea. Lastly, Danny took the lead, scoring a 9.

The fish course

Day 2 of the Great British Menu 2018 rolled around and the Great British Menu chefs were tasked with cooking a fish dish to impress the ever-demanding judge, Angela Hartnett.

The Peace and Loaf Head Chef, David, was first and hoped to keep in touching distance of the other competitors with his dish ‘My God, I Bet Me Mam Has Seen Some Trotters’. A touching tribute to his mum, a chiropodist, it included pigs trotter alongside his mums favourite fish, cod, a mussel sauce and sweetcorn, both as a crumb and puree. He faced a real issue though as he is allergic to shellfish and so could not taste any of his food! He also faced disaster when he realised that the deep fryer could only reach 180C when he needed it to reach 190C. However, he averted a crisis by frying it on the stove.

Dave Coulson great british menu fish course

Danny Parker, who took the lead in the first day was hoping to maintain his lead with his dish, ‘Not All Superheroes Wear Capes’. A dish containing lobster, scallops and unusually a white chocolate sauce it was dedicated to the unsung heroes of the NHS, one of whom (a porter) he met.

Last up was the Head Chef of Fenchurch at the Skygarden, Dan Fletcher. He and Danny Parker managed to maintain their streak of using the same main ingredient. Dan cooked a lobster and carrot dish meal called ‘For All the Sleepless Nights’. He served it on a gorgeous starry plate.

Dan Fletcher great british menu fish course

Once they had all served their dishes it was time for the scores. Danny Parker was given an 8 with Angela saying the white chocolate worked but it didn’t need the fermented strawberries. David Coulson received a 9 as did Dan Fletcher. David was told there may have been too many crispy elements in his dish. Dan was told he may not have needed so many types of carrot in his dish.

This meant that the two Dan’s were now in the lead with 17 points while David was still very much in the running with 16 points, meaning it still really is all up for grabs!

The main course

It was battle of the beef on day three of the Great British Menu. All the North Eastern Great British Menu chefs had their work cut out to get ahead in the mains, as they were all very close in points coming into the third day.

life is a splendid gift

Dan Fletcher was up first with a traditional plate of food, inspired by the founder of modern nursing - Florence Nightingale. Called ‘Life Is A Splendid Gift’, it involved a fillet of beef with a grain crust, salsify and horseradish. Utilising the classic combination of beef and horseradish, Dan wanted to elevate his dish with a unique crust including wild rice and pumpkin seeds. He served it alongside black radish and Tokyo turnips.


David Coulson, who scored a magnificent 9 with his fish course, hoped to maintain his excellent form with a dish dedicated to the air ambulance for saving his wife. To do this he wanted to make a spin on a Chinese takeaway. Consisting of an on-the-bone wagyu ribeye it was served alongside oyster and broccoli purees, kimchi vegetable salad and glazed oyster. It was named ‘Thank You, You Saved My Mrs, Let Me Buy You A Chinese’.


Michelin-starred chef Danny was last and hoped to maintain his momentum with his dish: ‘I Refused to Accept it, because it was nonsense’; devoted to the founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan. Combining a welsh wagyu fillet cooked both sous vide and over hot coals with oxtail, braised baby gem lettuce, truffle and a lovage emulsion.

When it came to the scores Dan Fletcher received a 9. He was praised because the beef was cooked perfectly and the vegetables were great. However, Angela said the sauce was a bit too reduced, and it could have done with more horseradish. David was given an 8. Angela said the broccoli puree was an inspired choice but expected more from the dish, for example, sticky ribs. Last up was Danny and he also received an 8 with Angela enjoying the carrots and braised baby gem lettuce but finding the beef a little lacking in flavour.

This meant that after the third day Dan Fletcher was in the lead with 26, Danny had 25 and David was on 24.

The dessert

Day four of the Great British Menu had the chefs battling it out to book themselves a place in the regional finals, by making a sublime dessert for Angela Hartnett.

great british menu 2018 the north east desserts

Danny was up first to serve, and was vying to try and get further than he did last time in the competition. He went all out to impress Angela with a dish dedicated to his mum and aunty which was called ‘Aunty Gwen’s Chocolate’. Incorporating a chocolate mousse, jelly and sorbet alongside a mint gel it was served with a chocolate tuile.

Dan Fletcher opted to make a Honey cake with bergamot and a ewe’s milk foam. He served it with a honeycomb and almond biscuit meticulously cut into a honeycomb shape. Instead of baking his cake Dan decided to steam it, hoping for a lighter texture.

Last to serve was David. His dish was dedicated to Bella, a young survivor of a serious illness and thus was titled ‘This One’s For Bella’. His dish took inspiration from a childhood classic; rice pudding. He cooked it in three different forms, a baked rice pudding, rice pudding ice cream (from a tin no less) and a fried rice pudding crisp.

David Coulson Great British Menu 2018

He had planned on serving it with a white chocolate shard but faced disaster, not once, but twice when first his chocolate burnt and then the second time it didn’t set. Inventively he decided to turn the failed chocolate shard into little white chocolate nuggets.

When it was time for the scores the two Dan’s ruled the night and were sent through to the final as they both scored a 7. Angela said that she enjoyed the ewes milk foam but thought the dish may have been too simplistic for the banquet. Regarding Danny Parkers dish, Angela Hartnett found it too rich but was pleased that he did choose to implement the mint to try and cut through it.

Unfortunately for David, he did not make it through to the final. Angela found it hard to distinguish between the different types of rice pudding but did like the rice pudding crisp.

david coulson great british menu 2018

Regional final North East

At the end of the first week the Great British Menu judges had to pick the first National Finalist who now as the chance to win themselves a place cooking in the banquet.

Restaurateur Oliver Peyton OBE, food writer Matthew Fort and food broadcaster Andi Oliver were joined by Dr Anne Weaver, lead clinician with the London Air Ambulance charity. Dr Weaver proved herself to be a tough critic.

great british menu 2018 judges

The judges were treated to the dishes Danny Parker, from Jesmond Dene House and Dan Fletcher, of Fenchurch at Sky Garden had prepared during the week.

Dan Fletcher was up first and made a small alteration to his starter from when he served it to Angela Hartnett by smoking his duck more. The judges absolutely loved this dish with Matthew Peyton jokingly saying it was a ‘quacking good dish’.

Danny on the other hand did not receive such praise. Andi said the turnips were overcooked and Oliver Peyton found the chicken wings a bit of a dull choice.

Onto the fish courses and both chefs struggled to wow the judges. Dan’s dish had a feeling of luxury but the sauce was too rich whilst Danny’s controversial white chocolate sauce did not strike a chord.

Unfortunately, when it came to the mains, the focus was all on Danny’s dish, but not for the reason he would have hoped. The bottle for his lovage emulsion broke whilst plating up which meant he was delayed in serving. This meant when the dish did react the judges it was cold and was subsequently sent back.

great british menu 2018

Last were the desserts, the judges liked Dan’s presentation but were not the biggest fans of the sponge. They were much bigger fans of Danny’s though, liking the mint and how it cut through the richness of the dessert.

Once all the dishes had been served all that was left was to find out who would make it into the National Finals. Dan Fletcher was chosen and the judges heaped praise on his starter which scored three 10s.  

Dan Fletcher Great British Menu 2018

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th August 2018

Great British Menu 2018 blog by Cameron Huck - North East heat