Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Dan Fletcher, North East heat

The Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2018 chefs from the North East: Dan Fletcher

This year Dan Fletcher from Fenchurch at Sky Garden, takes on David Coulson and Danny Parker 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.

Dan Fletcher, head chef, Fenchurch at Sky Garden - Great British Menu 2018 contestants - North East
Dan Fletcher

Dan Fletcher previously worked at The Square for five years under Phil Howard and has also worked with Tom Kitchin and Tommy Banks. He joined Fenchurch at Sky Garden in 2017, following the departure of Zac Whittle. 

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

Working in London for the past few years, it was nice to be able to go back and  represent the North East with what I’ve achieved and what I’ve learnt. It’s an opportunity to put myself out there and show what I can do. To push myself forward and compete in a competition where so many great chefs have competed before. I felt quite privileged to be honest.

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 thought it was interesting and when I started to put my mind to it, the amount of ideas and creativity that came from it… I just felt like I connected with it straight away.  It was about creating dishes that would say thank you, for all their effort and hard work from all the people and lives they’ve saved.

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

It’s a national institution. First of all, it’s where you’re born and then obviously, throughout your life you’re coming back at your darkest moments and you always feel like you’re so welcome. Throughout my menu, it was about thanking people. 

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

It’s nothing like cooking in a kitchen at work. At first, it was difficult to adjust to but as the week went on, I got used to it and I enjoyed it more. The cameras like to know where you’re about to move to so it’s interesting talking about what you’re doing, whilst concentrating and trying to create the dish as perfectly as you can.

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

As a chef, you don’t always get to meet your peers so it was really interesting meeting and seeing so many different, energetic chefs, putting effort into their dishes. Competing amongst them, I really relished off of that pressure and that was something I really enjoyed.

Dan Fletcher - Great British Menu 2018 contestants - north east heat

Dan Fletcher 
Credit: Optomen TV /

Andrew Hayes-Watkins

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

I don’t think I can think of any negatives. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy it but as it happens, I loved the whole experience. I sometimes found the camera-in-your-face interview questions more difficult but that didn’t stop me enjoying it. The whole experience was eye opening and I took quite a lot away from it.

How did you find the criticism and being judged?

You do become extremely passionate about the dishes and I might have found criticism hard to take but at the same time, you have to respect it and learn from it. Even when you cook in a restaurant, you might be extremely proud of the dishes that you’re putting out but you should always take feedback from the guests that come in to dine. I think it’s the same in the competition – those are the people that are eating it and will want to put it on the Banquet. 

Were you more nervous about being judged by the veteran chef or the judges?

I felt like there was different pressure cooking for the veteran chef and the judges. You wanted to perfect all the technical elements and hope that you’ve achieved a kind of culinary perfection, but then on the other hand, you wanted to tell the story, say thank you and you want it to be a really enjoyable plate of food. Without impressing the chef, you’re not going to get any further in the competition so you kind of have to!

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

My standout memory is stopping halfway through the dessert course and looking around… Up until that point, I’d felt like each chef had it under control each round, even though they were pushing to the maximum of their ability. It got to the dessert round and it just felt like there were certain wheels coming off around the kitchen! I remember it was the first time I’d looked up properly throughout the hour and a half that you’re given. I was covered in flour, there was sugar everywhere but through all of that carnage and mayhem, we did actually end up producing some good desserts! It was a strange extreme.

Would you take part in Great British Menu again?

If I was given the opportunity and privilege to do it again, I would definitely consider it. I would have to think long and hard about it, but it was something that I really enjoyed and I learnt so much from. 

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

I would absolutely. I think anything that adds another string to your bow as a chef, it’s worth jumping in and taking on. I’m quite nervous to see what I look like on TV though! Watching it as a young chef, I know how much it meant to me and how much I took from it. 


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th August 2018

Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Dan Fletcher, North East heat