Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Olivia Barry, South West heat

The  Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2018 chefs from the South West: Olivia Barry

This year Olivia Barry takes on Tom Brown and Jude Kereama 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.

Olivia Barry credit crumb magazine
Olivia Barry credit Crumbs magazine

Olivia is chef-owner at Adelina Yard in Bristol but has previously worked at the Michelin-starred Murano and the Galvin Bistro. This is her first time competing on the show.

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

I have always watched it and been inspired by the chefs that have taken part. Being in front of the camera is so far outside of my comfort zone, but I was up for the challenge and knew that it would push me and my cooking. The brief really captured my imagination and I was keen to be involved in a celebration of the NHS.

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?

When you put the NHS and food together, the first thing that most people think about is hospital food, which doesn’t have the best reputation! But, I think the NHS is really important and I wanted to create something that was special in celebration of it. When I started to think about the NHS, what it means to me and the impact it has had on mine and my family’s life, there was actually a lot of inspiration to be found.

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

The NHS is an amazing thing. It looks after my family and friends, your family and friends, and all of our family and friends 24-hours a day. We have to do anything we can to celebrate, support and preserve it.

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

Cooking in a kitchen that you’re not familiar with is always a challenge.  I totally expected it to be challenging,  but I was lucky to learn a lot from the people around me.

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

Having the opportunity to push myself; both out of my comfort zone and in my cooking. Meeting and learning from the two other brilliant chefs was also a big highlight.

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

The hardest part was knowing that you can’t go back and correct mistakes. Chefs tend to be perfectionists, and I am no different. There were some things that went wrong with some of my dishes and not being able to make them right was tough.

How did you find the criticism and being judged?

At Adelina Yard, we’re keen to change the perception of professional kitchens as shouty, angry places. This is also something I’m particularly aware of as a woman in a male-dominated industry. The criticism on the Great British Menu is designed to be constructive, so I was always keen to listen and learn from it.

Of course, I wanted the judge to like what I was doing and it was difficult when I had made mistakes, but I tried my best to take everything they said on board and use it as a learning experience.

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

Being judged by the veteran was pretty nerve-wracking - I think nerves are natural because you’re being judged by someone you respect and you want to impress them.

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

I was pregnant with my third child during filming, so that was a special time in my life. I don’t have a single stand out memory but after the competition had finished and I had a chance to reflect on it all, it was amazing to realise just how much I learned about myself. It’s given me the confidence to try things that I wouldn’t have before.

Would you take part in Great British Menu again?

Definitely. As I’ve said, I am a perfectionist and I would love the chance to try again and create more new, interesting dishes. It’d be great to do the competition without being pregnant too, that took multi-tasking to a whole new level!

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

100%. I don’t think you can get this experience anywhere else. It’ll be hard and there will be pressure, but it’s also a great opportunity to learn loads about yourself and your cooking.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th September 2018

Great British Menu 2018 chefs - Olivia Barry, South West heat