Great British Menu 2018 blog by Cameron Huck – Northern Ireland heat

The Staff Canteen

The Great British Menu is back and the contestants this week are from Northern Ireland. 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 is James Devine, former National Chef of The Year winner who works at  Ardtara Country House in Northern Ireland,  Shauna Froydenlund, joint chef-patron at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley and Tommy Heaney, chef-owner of Heaney's Cardiff.

Week 8 of Great British Menu sees three chefs from Northern Ireland battling it out to get a place in the regional final on Friday. Judging them this week and looking for perfection in their dishes is veteran chef Jeremy Lee, chef-proprietor of Quo Vadis in London. His years of experience and undeniably high standards meant the chefs would have to make something utterly spectacular to get high scores from him.

Shauna wanted to show off her own style of cooking with her starter, ‘Importing From Overseas’, a reference to the number of international workers in the NHS. She made an Indian inspired dish focussed around a potato terrine, chicken skin and a roasted cauliflower and cumin puree.


>>> See recipes from Shauna Froydenlund here

James Devine who was named the 2017 National Chef of the Year had plenty of experience in competitive cooking. He wanted to elevate tea and toast for his starter, ‘It’s the Simple Things’. A tribute to all the auxiliary nurses - he made a brioche from scratch, a chicken liver parfait and spiced orange marmalade. He served it alongside roasted quail.

it's the simple things

>>> See recipes from James Devine here

Tommy, the only returning chef this week, wanted to take the idea of the all-day breakfast and make it banquet worthy. ‘Eat, Sleep, Night Shift, Repeat’ had a few surprising elements. He made a sourdough toast consommé, pancetta foam and wrapped eggs in shredded filo pastry and then fried it.

eat sleep nightshift repeat

>>> See recipes from Tommy Heaney here

Jeremy had plenty to say about all the chefs’ courses. He found Shauna’s starter to be a considerate and heartfelt tribute to the NHS but found the dishes flavours to be muddled. James, despite making a wonderful parfait, Jeremy felt it made the dish far too big and thought his cauliflower puree was curdled. Tommy was praised for how his dish reflected his own personality but Jeremy did not like the consommé and thought the whole dish needed more seasoning.

This lead onto the scores, James took an early lead, scoring an 8, Shauna was a point behind with a 7 and Tommy started the week with a 6.

Day two of the Great British Menu meant it was time for the chefs to make their fish courses for the scrutinising eye of Jeremy Lee. Day two of the Great British Menu meant it was time for the chefs to make their fish courses for the scrutinising eye of Jeremy.

James Devine took the lead in the starter and hoped to maintain his lead with his takeaway inspired fish dish, ‘C.F.T’. Dedicated to the cystic fibrosis team who look after his sister which was made up of langoustine lollipops, langoustine wrapped in barbeque cabbage which was then fried in langoustine beer, barbequed monkfish and beans.


>>> See recipes from James Devine here

Tommy who was in last place knew he needed a big score to keep in the running. Titled ‘Franklins Find: DNA’ it was dedicated to Rosalind Franklin who was the first person to x-ray DNA. To really hammer home the brief he made his dish with ingredients that predominantly began with D, N and A. The main attraction of his dish did not however and was hake, which he brined and then steamed at the last minute. This was accompanied by dill oil, nuts and apple butter.


>>> See recipes from Tommy Heaney here

Shauna was in the middle of the pack and was looking for a high score for her dish inspired by the reduction in stigma surrounding mental health. ‘Grangewood’s Unlocking the Stigma: Fish for Thought’, was made up of cured and then turf smoked trout, mussel stock and a sorrel mayonnaise. Many of the ingredients were actually from Shauna’s home area of London Derry. 


>>> See recipes from Shauna Froydenlund here

Jeremy wanted the fish course to emulate the best health service in the world and so the dishes would have to be the best fish courses in the world. His exacting standards could be found to penetrate his feedback and in turn, the scores. Jeremy found James’ monkfish to be exquisite and the dish to be a lovely homage but, the battered langoustine was overcooked, and the dish as a whole was not grand enough.

Tommy was treated to high praise from Jeremy for his dish that ‘ticked every box’ and was ‘truly accomplished cooking’. Shauna had worried Jeremy with her makeshift smoker but the veteran judge needn’t have worried as he found the trout to be perfect tasting, however, he wished that more of the food was on the same plate. Leading on to the scores, Jeremy awarded James with an 8, Shauna a 9 and Tommy got the first 10 of the week! This set of scores meant that going into the main course all the chefs were sitting on a score of 16!

With all the Great British Menu chefs on a score of 16, they all knew they would have to make something extraordinary to get ahead.

Shauna was hoping to take the lead with her main, ‘Junior Doctors Supper’. A two-part dish made up of a fillet of beef and an unusual element, a takeaway cottage pie she was hoping this creativity would separate her from the others. The cottage pie was made up of a short rib with carrots, raw mushroom, potato and a rarebit on top.

Junior doctors supper

>>> See recipes from Shauna Froydenlund here

Tommy, still on top of the world after his 10 in the fish course was looking to keep up the high scores with a dish dedicated to the architect of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan. ‘Bevan’s Heaven: A Miners Lunch’ had a lot of different components in it, including a beef fillet that was coated in burnt onion powder, deep fried veal sweetbreads and blue cheese and cheddar rarebit and a flask of veal jus.

Bevan's Heaven

>>> See recipes from Tommy Heaney here

James, who had been the most consistent performer so far with two 8’s, wanted to get a big score leading into the dessert round. Inspired by his cousin who is a theatre nurse, ‘A Rare Breed’ was celebrating the people who make up the NHS. A theatrical dish made of a northern Irish ribeye centrepiece that was controversially cooked in a water bath accompanied with short rib nuggets and chips, cooked in a 3 part process.

A rare breed

>>> See recipes from James Devine here

Veteran chef, Jeremy, maintained his high standards in his verdicts on the dishes. He found Shauna’s dish to be technically flawless, with all its components working in harmony and all cooked perfectly, however, if the cottage pie element was removed Jeremy questioned if the dish would be special enough.

Tommy was praised for the amount of thought that went into the presentation of his main and how his sweetbreads tasted. But, Jeremy said there were too many elements in the dish which made it a ‘cacophony of confusion’.

James, while making sensational nuggets and making a real sense of theatre in his dish was criticised for the lack of flavour and texture in his beef.

This meant that Shauna was scored an 8, while the boys were given a 7.

Northern Ireland dessert

The last course of for the three Northern Irish Great British Menu chefs was dessert. With only one point separating them, they all had the chance to secure themselves a place in the regional finals on Friday.

great british menu 2018

In the lead after scoring an 8 for her main, Shauna wanted to keep ahead with her dessert ‘Tea & Toast to Say Thank You‘. Having been head pastry chef for Marcus Wareing for 3 years she was pulling out all the stops to wow Jeremy. Focused around tea and toast it was made up of a bergamot cheesecake, toast ice cream and a tea infused vodka cocktail.

James Devine, the resident competition chef wanted to get his highest score of the week with his dessert dedicated to the first responders called ‘Orange Aid‘. A 5 layer dessert focussed around chocolate and orange flavours it comprised of a coffee sponge base, a parfait centre and it was serve with a ‘whiskeycello’, which was a riff on limoncello.

great british menu 2018

Tommy who was the only chef as of yet to have scored a 10 this week wanted to replicate that score with his dessert titled, ‘Thanks a Bunch‘. A thank you to the whole NHS, it was designed to be like flowers and a box of chocolates. A very technical dish made up of 13 elements it involved a chocolate mousse, filled with passionfruit served alongside a caramelised white chocolate ice cream.

Jeremy knew the importance of this course in determining who was going to make it through to the regional final. He was looking for absolute excellence in the Northern Irish Great British Menu chefs desserts. He found Shauna’s dessert to be a touching tribute made of finely balanced flavours but, he hated the tea.

James, who has always put on show with his courses was praised for his presentation and the intial hit of flavour but was criticised for the lack of clearly defined layers in his dessert.

great british menu 2018

Jeremy loved the message behind Tommy’s dish and the chocolates in the little boxes. He was not a fan though of the mousse’s texture and found the dish to be lacking in elegance.

With all the feedback given all that was left was to find who would go through to the regional final. Shauna went straight through with her score of 8 while, iincredibly, both James and Tommy scored a 6, meaning they both ended up on the same score. This left Jeremy with the unenviable position of having to pick one to go through. He opted for Tommy, citing his reasoning for choosing Tommy as Tommy’s outstanding fish course.

The regional final of the Great British Menu pitted Tommy and Shauna against one another to try and get their place in the national finals.

Joining the esteemed group of judges to help work out who was going to get their place in the final was Shehan Hettiarachy who was the lead surgeon in the major trauma unit at St Mary’s Hospital on the day of the Grenfell fire.


Tommy was up with his starter which Jeremy had said earlier in the week ‘lacked refinement’. To counter this Tommy made changes to the dish, including covering the duck egg in breadcrumbs instead of filo pastry and adding crunchy bread. Matthew Fort described the egg as being the ‘hero’ of the dish.

Shauna started off her day with her starter which she made minimal changes to but did remove the onion bhaji, instead making into a crumb. The judges found it lacked in certain aspects.

Tommy, who had scored the only 10 of the week for his fish course made the bold move to change his artichoke puree for a cauliflower one. The dish went down just as well though with the judges all finding it to be fantastic.

For her fish course, Shauna heeded Jeremy’s advice and dropped the second trout element of her dish. Oliver was a big fan of how the dish mentioned mental health, but they all found the dish to be a bit confusing.

Both chefs made beef and rarebit for their mains but Tommy made changes to his main course. He had deep fried his sweetbreads earlier in the week but now he pan-fried them and made the rarebit into a croquette. Andi was critical of the dish, saying that ‘everything was not quite right’.

Shauna stuck to her guns and kept her takeaway element, which the judges actually found to be the best part of her dish.
Unfortunately, though they thought the Galloway beef was dull.


For dessert, Tommy went against Jeremy’s advice and kept his dessert exactly the same. Matthew found that the little chocolates in the dessert had too much passionfruit in them for Matthew and Shehan thought the dish didn’t have the right execution.

Shauna’s final dish of the day was a mixed bag, Oliver was not a fan of the tea cocktail but enjoyed the yoghurt and bergamot cake. However, in general, the judges seemed underwhelmed.

Once all the dishes had been served all that was left was for the judges to put the contestants out of their misery and let them know who made it through. Only 3 points separated them and it turned out that Tommy made it through!

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Editor 8th October 2018

Great British Menu 2018 blog by Cameron Huck – Northern Ireland heat