Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Craig Sherrington, North West heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th September 2018

Meet the Great British Menu 2018 chefs from the North West: Craig Sherrington 

This year Craig Sherrington takes on Ellis Barrie and  Liam Simpson-Trotman in a bid to make it through to the Great British Menu 2018 banquet which celebrates 70 years of the National Health Service. This year’s brief is to create celebratory and heartfelt dishes in tribute to the heroic staff of the NHS.

craig sherrington
Craig Sherrington

Despite failing his Home Economics GCSE, Craig went on to study catering at college and got a placement at David Everitt-Matthias' two Michelin starred Le Champignon Sauvage. After that, he worked at The Capital in Knightsbridge and the Lakeside Hotel in Cumbria before taking on his first head chef role at Storrs Hall. 

After a few years, Craig and his wife Louise got the opportunity to take over The General Burgoyne in Ulverston. After four successful years, the couple bought it outright and opened it as Virginia House in 2015. 

Why did you want to be involved in Great British Menu?

I got involved because as far as I’m concerned, it’s the chef’s competition of competitions. Hopefully it will really raise the profile of me as a chef and my restaurant! 

This years’ theme is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS – how easy was it for you to come up with dishes to be served at the anniversary banquet?

I didn’t find it easy to come up with the dishes but the brief was quite easy for me because almost my entire family have worked for the NHS in some way. So my menu was very heartfelt in a sense - it was really based around the inside lives of NHS workers, rather than what’s seen from the outside. 

What does the NHS mean to you and how rewarding is it to possibly cook your food for these incredible individuals?

If it wasn't for the NHS, there would be a lot of very unwell people out there. It's probably one of the most important parts of this country. It also means a lot to me personally, because it’s given me two beautiful children and my wife and most of my family have had a career in the NHS. 

How difficult is it to cook in the Great British Menu kitchen alongside other chefs?

It’s very difficult because at the end of the day, you want to be on top of your game but you’re looking over that table and that stovetop at two other people that want to be on top of theirs. I did make some really good friends whilst I was doing the competition but also, you look up and you think ‘I want to beat you’! It’s like a boxing match at the end of the day – you know that the two guys are perfect friends out of the ring, but you get in the ring and the gloves are on and that’s it!

What was the best part about being on Great British Menu 2018?

I think the pressure was a good thing – it’s intense! But also meeting new chefs, seeing different cooking styles and learning things from the others as well. Basically, the camaraderie of chefs once you get them in a kitchen. Nobody wanted to see anybody do something wrong, even though you’re in a competition and you wanted to help them if it did. You came away from it feeling like you’ve made new friends and new connections. 

Were there any negative parts to being on Great British Menu?

The cameras were a pain in the arse! If it was all about cooking, it would be an easy programme but it wasn’t. But I don’t think there’s any negatives really, anything that comes out of the show can only be positive.

How did you find the criticism and being judged?

At the end of the day, the judges are there to judge you. More often than not I would say that the chef judging you is of higher acclaim and more experienced than you. Even my children critique my food sometimes and you take it positively. You go away and think about if you can turn that into a better dish because of it.

Do you have any standout memories during your time on Great British Menu?

All I can say is that the entire week was a complete rollercoaster of emotion! From being down in the dumps at the bottom, to being the highest, to being all over the place.  Because of that, I think it will make a very good show!

Would you take part in Great British Menu again?

Yes because of the thrill of the competition. It was an absolute buzz. We were all going back to the hotel room at night -sometimes in bits, sometimes elated. It was something that I’ve never experienced before and something that I’d really like to experience again.

Would you encourage your peers, colleagues and chef friends to take part in a competition like Great British Menu?

Yeah, very much so. Back in the day, when I was training, the experience was that you had to go to London but I think nowadays, the experience is you have to try and get on telly. That’s the next London!

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th September 2018

Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Craig Sherrington, North West heat