Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Marianne Lumb, Central heat

The  Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2018 chefs from Central England: Marianne Lumb

This year Marianne Lumb takes on Sabrina Gidda and Ryan 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.

Marianne Lumb - Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Central heat
Marianne Lumb

Marianne was a finalist on MasterChef: The Professionals 2009 and classically trained at restaurants including Gravetye Manor before starting a career as a private chef. In 2013, she opened the eponymous Marianne - a 14-cover restaurant in Notting Hill. In 2017, the restaurant was listed at no. 33 in The Good Food Guide 2018.

Marianne announced in August 2018 that she would be leaving the self-titled restaurant "for personal and professional reasons". She explained that her team would continue to run the restaurant and she was hoping to head to Asia to work with chef David Thompson. 

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

I’ve been wanting to do it for about five years but I wasn’t able to leave my restaurant for the amount of time needed. It’s been a long time coming! I’m very proud of coming from Leicestershire and I sometimes feel that I’ve neglected my Central region roots so I wanted to celebrate that. 

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?

What really resonated with me was the fact that I was in hospital three months before filming and the NHS have been so incredible to me and so I thought ‘I’ve got to do them proud for this’. Luckily I recovered in time for the competition!

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

The NHS held my hand when I was terrified and made me better and I'm so grateful for it. When you go travelling to other countries that don’t have anything like that, it makes you realise how lucky we are and we really need to look after it. It’s really inspiring to do stuff like this.

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

My kitchen at Marianne is very small so it was actually a larger kitchen! I will admit that the pressure was massive but I really enjoyed it. Sometimes it’s really awesome to be put under pressure. I started thriving on it to be honest but that’s not to say that I didn’t find it tough.

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

I got really amazing feedback from my judge and a good score and I was really delighted.

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

There’s no doubt that doing a competition like that completely knocks the stuffing out of you. They want to put you to the test and it is the survival of the fittest so it’s not just something that you can dip in and dip out of. It takes up a lot of energy and you need to put loads into it. I’ve learnt a lot from doing it and I will take those things to the next series, if I do it!

How did you find the criticism and being judged?

A bad review or negative feedback is always difficult to take - no matter how much of a thick skin you develop. I’m getting better at it, but in a studio where there’s nowhere to hide - I’m sure that my face is a picture! It’s gutting because I put 22 years of my professional career into that dish so it’s always going to be hard to take. But when you put your ego aside, I think you’ve got to just suck it up, especially when it’s someone like my judge.

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

I was nervous about my veteran judge but I think I need someone of that calibre to keep me in line! I don’t really get intimidated by who I’m cooking for anymore.

Would you take part in Great British Menu again?

Yes because I think that I cook some of my best food under that crazy pressure. It’s not like your normal every day as a chef. Even though it can be agonising, I think it’s really good for you. Having your own restaurant, you’re always the boss so I think it’s quite good to turn the tables and throw everything up in the air a little bit. It keeps you on your toes as well.

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

Yeah, always! I think it’s a really excellent thing to do.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 3rd September 2018

Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Marianne Lumb, Central heat