Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Liam Simpson-Trotman, North West heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th September 2018

Meet the Great British Menu 2018 chefs from the North West: Liam Simpson-Trotman

This year Liam Simpson-Trotman takes on Craig Sherrington and Ellis Barrie 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.

Ryan Simpson and Liam Trotman
Ryan Simpson and Liam Trotman

Liam co-owns Orwells Restaurant in Shiplake, Oxfordshire with his husband Ryan Simpson-Trotman, who is appearing on Great British Menu for a second time this year. After working together at The Goose at Salome, the couple opened the pub/restaurant in 2010.  Orwells was recently listed at 29 in the Good Food Guide 2019 with a score of 7.

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

I didn’t! Ryan’s done it before and he’s done a lot of TV work and he told me to give it a go. I was flabbergasted! A little old lad from Liverpool doing something like that? I couldn’t believe it.

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?

It was a hard brief and then when you’re on the show and you produce your food and the story behind it, you think ‘Oh god, that chef’s story’s better than mine! How are people going to understand and connect with it?’. I was happy with every single dish I produced, to be fair though.

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

I think it’s a great institution to be involved with and I think it’s a great opportunity to represent the North West. One of the best children’s hospitals, Alder Hey is in Liverpool. I come from a Caribbean background – my family is from Barbados. So I said to Ryan straight away that I was definitely going to do a West Indian style main course. It’s quite emotional actually when you produce your food and meet some of the people in the NHS who started at the bottom and worked their way up to the top and receive an OBE for it. They are heroes.

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

It’s quite funny because me and Ryan have worked together now for ten years. So it’s always been me and him and you appreciate that if Ryan’s not there, I feel like I’ve lost a leg and vice versa. So to actually get out of your own comfort zone and go and cook somewhere else, it gives you a bit of boost and a spring to your step. 

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

I think everything’s good, honestly. I felt the most emotion producing my main course because it meant a hell of a lot to me – you’ll know when you see the show.

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

Not really – it’s just as hard as being in the kitchen. There’s early starts and late finishes. The production team are really good – they look after you a lot and make sure that you’re happy. Being in the North West, because it’s big personalities, we just hit it off straight away. We had a right laugh – singing in the kitchen to Beyonce, dancing around.  

How did you find the criticism and being judged?

It’s one of those things where you’ve got to accept it. I think the first score was the one I was most nervous about, because it was my first dish up and my first time in the competition. The camera is fixed on you so that part is quite nervous.

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

Nobody likes to be criticised, do they? So I think when you get past that hurdle, it is nice to be critiqued because you know you can always do better, you learn where you make mistakes. 

Would you take part in Great British Menu again?

If they asked me – 100% because I loved it. It’s a very proud feeling, not only to represent the NHS but also, I’m a proud Scouser. Everyone badmouths Liverpool but we all stick together.  

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

I’d recommend it to anybody. If you’re good enough and they want you, just do it. It can be quite scary but there’s a good theme behind it so you’ll never feel alone.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th September 2018

Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Liam Simpson-Trotman, North West heat