Great British Menu 2019 chefs: Gordon Jones, Scotland heat

The  Staff Canteen

As BBC 2’s Great British Menu’s fifth heat is set to kick off on Wednesday 17th April, we spoke to the Scottish contestants Lorna McNee, Benedict Reade and Gordon Jones about what it was like to take part in this year’s competition.

Michelin-trained Gordon Jones  is the chef owner of a 20-seater modern European restaurant - which he says is located 'in the unfashionable backstreets' of Bath -  where he conjures up a different tasting menu every day. 

The only first timer in the Scottish heat this year, we were interested to hear what the notoriously outlandish chef thought of the competition. 

How did it feel to be on GBM?

It was good! Usual TV nonsense isn’t it. I always wanted to do GBM, but probably five or six years ago when lots and lots of really good chefs did it. Now it’s just a TV show, but it was really good fun.

I’m too busy to be serious about GBM, putting stuff on record players and stuffing them in CD cases and all the gimmicky f***ing nonsense so I just turned up and did some cooking and it was lovely.

Being  a chef owner on GBM must be pretty special because you get to showcase your own food, right?

That’s definitely a cool thing but the major problem has been that we’re really busy here,  so I had to cancel bookings, close the restaurant for a week, give all the staff extra holiday so it cost lots of money.

It was good to go and show people what we do at the restaurant and I think it was a really good advertisement; inside my own head I was weighing up - £10,000-£15,000 for a week’s revenue, would I give 15 grand for that kind of advertisement? But I think it works out financially for what we’ll get in return for being on telly and people talking about us. 

Can you talk me a little bit through your dishes?17851491 low res great british menu

I can’t fucking remember! Erm, so traditionally, herring goes with raspberries but people don’t necessarily like eating too much herring because they’re too fucking bony so we did mackerel.

Then pigeon, peanut butter, pineapple. I only do that dish because it’s three Ps: I find that things in an alliteration sort of match, it’s kind of like food with the same colour matches.

Was that your main course, 'Parklife'?

Yeah that’s the one. Then Kulfie is one of the main desserts I do at the restaurant – I used to work at an Indian restaurant and we did it in loads of different forms.

Image: From left to right, Oliver Peyton, celebrity judge Keisha Buchanan, Andi Oliver and Matthew Fort. Contestants who make it past the first heat with Richard Corrigan will on to be judged by the panel on Friday. Credit: BBC Pictures  

Then you had langoustines and lamb’s hearts.  Ideally that should just be mashed potato maple syrup and langoustine stock, with a spoon and maybe a tartan blanket looking out over the mountains, but we had to elaborate and put prawns and hearts in there just to make it worthwhile. 

Is there anything that you would change about GBM?

What I don’t like about it is that it’s all too cheffy-cheffy – I’ve never watched a fucking episode of GBM so I didn’t know anything about it – so I just turned up completely blind. They all found me funny, it was like a blast from the past, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I just turned up to do a wee bit of cooking.

I  like shopping, that’s my kind of thing. And antiques. And maybe old houses.

How did you get on with Richard Corrigan?

Good, I think. Funny little Irish man. It was really embarrassing because he couldn’t say loads of words and it was really funny - so you know when the three people are stood there and you’re supposed to be waiting, you stand there and look at the back of the producer’s head – which on TV is you standing there pretending to look at Richard Corrigan – but he kept fucking up the lines.

So it was supposed to be this jeopardy moment and he couldn’t say a certain word ‘cause he’s got a semi-lisp ‘cause of his Irish accent, like Jonathan Ross that can’t say his Ws.

I think as a general person he seems nice.

He says he’s stingy; I’m a stingy person because it’s good to make money – unless I’m buying clothes and antiques.

Would you do it again?

At the end, they said ‘hopefully we’ll see you again next year’ and I said ‘no chance’ and walked off,  but in a funny banter kind of way. I thought ‘I wouldn’t do it again, I don’t have the fucking time to do it again’ but then when I got home, on reflection when I was sat in the garden at night time having a beer and a smoke I thought to myself – probably, if the chance came again – I probably should do it and actually try.

I finished work on Saturday night, packed the fucking car up and just drove, arrived with a boot full of some plates from the restaurant, cooked and then left again – I didn’t do any packing or gimmicks or sunglasses and fake trays.

Bullshit baffles brains, I don’t really need to have too much style over substance. I know that I can cook because my restaurant is so full and it has been for the past seven years.

So I think that if I was offered that again, I’d actually go for the brief rather than just thinking ‘what would I like to show people from my own restaurant' and then fit a song to it. I was still trying to think of what to call my dessert on the day to make it fit the music theme. 

What's the story behind that? It was called 'Bhangra beats and Bhangra sweets' right? 

Yeah. I met Punjabi MC on an industrial estate  - I was there and along came this shoddy dark blue Ford Focus with fucking dents in the side of it and out came this little Indian man and it was Punjabi MC, bless his little cotton socks.

We went to the recording studio and he told me how he should have made more money from his thing and how he didn’t get his copyright because he sampled a lot of the music. Then he had a bit of a diva strop - he wouldn’t take his sunglasses off but they wouldn’t let him film with his sunglasses on because you could see the reflection of the camera in them - it was really embarrassing. And so that was that fucking song for you.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th April 2019

Great British Menu 2019 chefs: Gordon Jones, Scotland heat