Great British Menu 2018 chefs - David Coulson, North East heat

The Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2018 chefs from the North East: David Coulson

This year David Coulson from Peace & Loaf, takes on Dan Fletcher 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.

Great British Menu 2018 chefs - North East - David Coulson, Peace & Loaf
David Coulson

David Coulson is the chef owner of Peace & Loaf in Jesmond, Newcastle. He is self-taught, but worked at several restaurants in the North East including Seaham Hall and Castle Eden Inn, before opening his own place in 2013. Peace & Loaf has since been awarded two AA Rosettes and a mention in the Michelin Guide. David was also a finalist on MasterChef: The Professionals 2010.

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

Great British Menu started when I was about 18 or 19, and it’s a programme that I’ve always watched. I’ve learnt so much from it and I’ve got so much respect for that programme. I think that it’s one of the hardest cooking competitions in the country, so I wanted to challenge myself.

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?

My menu just wrote itself. I had a few good stories that actually meant something to me. I wanted to show people that I can cook my own original food and show them something that’s not been done before. 

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

The NHS is one of the proudest things we have in this country. Everybody knows somebody that works in the NHS. It’s like a little family. Whether it be happy in some places, sad in others– their work is amazing. I was so proud to represent the North East and the hospitals of this region.

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

It’s a red hot little kitchen! It was alright though – I just focused on what I had to do and didn’t worry about what the other lads were up to really. But it was nice to have a week with some different chefs and I enjoyed it.

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

Meeting the veteran judge was a massive highlight for me. I can’t say who!

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

Because I’ve sat at home and watched it, I knew how many great chefs have been on the programme. That was definitely the most challenging thing. You think ‘I could do that’ but when you’re there, the pressure’s just completely different and you’re putting everything on yourself to create something that people want to see. That pressure is massive. The cameras I was alright with because I was a MasterChef: The Professionals finalist in 2010 so I’m used to it.

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David Coulson - North East heat
Credit: Optomen TV/

Andrew Hayes-Watkins

How did you find the criticism and being judged?

Anything that the veteran judge would say, I would take on board. They’re there for a reason – they’ve won it already and they want to help you to win it so you should take it on the chin and cook your best. We say at work here – ‘take it on the flavour train’.

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

I was very nervous when my judge walked in – you’ll probably see it on my face!

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

I got a couple of high scores that I was really happy with.

Would you take part in Great British Menu again?

I would definitely - to show people what I can do. I think that it was a big learning curve and I hope that it has a positive effect on the business. Not every chef that goes on there has their own restaurant, but I was representing myself because this restaurant is me.

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

Of course. I think that lots of chefs would love to be asked to be on the show. One of my ambitions when I started being a senior chef was to do this and represent myself.


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th August 2018

Great British Menu 2018 chefs - David Coulson, North East heat