Great British Menu 2019 chefs: Joe Baker, South West heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th April 2019

The South West heat of this year’s series of Great British Menu will hit the airwaves tonight at 8pm on BBC Two.

The programme pits the country’s top chefs against one another, first cooking for a veteran chef followed by a panel of judges, for the chance to serve one of their dishes at a banquet. This year, the competition celebrates fifty years of British music and the reception will be held at Abbey Road Studios, where The Beatles recorded most of their albums in the 1960s.

This week will see chefs Emily Scott, Joe Baker and Lee Smith, all firstcomers on the programme and all restaurant chef owners representing the South West.

Joe Baker is the chef owner of Number 10 in Jersey. At just 28 years old, Joe is one of the youngest contestants on Great British Menu this year, but that’s not to say he won’t be giving the others a run for their money.

What was it like to be on GBM?17851769 low res great british menu

It was great. Really fun, I was really surprised to be cast but it was a great experience, a great challenge and it was great to get out of the kitchen. They had a great new kitchen this year, I think we were the first to get in there, they were still unpacking installing the inductions on the day, it was down to the wire.

Generally speaking I really enjoyed it. It was cool to have such close inspection of what you do. When I opened Number 10 a few years ago, it was my first restaurant and my first time not having a boss and it was nice to have that outside person saying what they thought.

Even though on the one hand everyone has an opinion, it’s also hard to find a truthful opinion.

When you have your own place you don’t get to see other things because you’re so focused on what you’re doing.

Image: from left to right, Joe Baker, Emily Scott, Lee Smith. Credit: BBC Pictures

Who were you hoping to get as a veteran judge and were you happy to get Daniel Clifford?

I was quite vocal – maybe I shouldn’t have been – saying that I didn’t want Daniel Clifford. He’s obviously a great chef but in terms of his attitude and ethos towards cooking and food, we’re very different.

What were you hoping to showcase in the competition?

Everyone will have gone in wanting to showcase their restaurant, but I made quite a big effort with Jersey produce as well. I got a retired Jersey cow flown over, Jersey milk. I wanted to show the diversity of what we have over here. That’s quite tricky because of how it was filmed, getting all your fish delivered, but that was my goal.

I was quite anxious because you have to have dishes that are quite refined to a certain degree and I work in a small kitchen in a small restaurant so there’s only so much you can do in terms of refining the food. But I did want to cook similar dishes to what I cook at the restaurant.

17851830 low res great british menuCan you talk me a little bit through your dishes?

My first course was My Octopus Garden. Growing up in Jersey, my granny had a house on the beach and Jersey has the third widest tidal range in the world so we used to go rock pooling so the idea was to create this Octopus’ underwater world based on The Beatles song. Octopus’ are like the magpies of the sea, they create garden walls to camouflage themselves

Then the fish dish was the one I was the most excited about, I think it was my best. I wanted it to be quite dramatic in its simplicity so it was black and white and resembles a record, but there’s lots going on. I wanted to reflect the subversive nature of British music.

Image: Celebrity judge Rev Richard Coles. Contestants who make it past the first heat with Daniel Clifford will on to be judged by the panel consisting of , Oliver Peyton,, Andi Oliver and Matthew Fort.on Friday. Credit: BBC Pictures  

My main course – with the Jersey milk cow - didn’t go quite as planned. I thought I had an hour and a half for it when in fact I had two so I didn’t give myself enough to do.

When you do that you tend to take your eye off the ball a bit.

Then the idea with my dessert – and I’m not sure I got it across – there’s this beach, I’m actually sitting at it now because I’m going to pick some sea beets. It’s my favourite beach, it’s called St Ouen’s.

It’s absolutely magnificent, I spent a big part of my childhood here. I wanted to create a dessert that was a message washed up on this beach. Where I’m sitting right now there’s loads of wild camomile and my mate makes honey just back on the sand dunes, so it was inspired by that terroir, and also using raw Jersey milk and trying to make a plate of food that felt like it had washed up on this beach.

In retrospect, that’s quite hard to achieve.

Would you do it again if they asked you?

Oh 100 percent. It was absolutely knackering. On the final day I went to this pub next to where we were filming and had fish and chips and a pint – and I was literally on the blower to my girlfriend like “I’m throwing up!” I just couldn’t quite believe what was happening.

I really would love to do it again because you learn so much. When I opened the restaurant three years ago I was woefully inexperienced and unprepared. The learning curve has just been huge, and the show was like a miniature version of that.  

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th April 2019

Great British Menu 2019 chefs: Joe Baker, South West heat