Great British Menu 2019 chefs: Kray Treadwell, Central heat

The Staff Canteen

The Great British Menu 2019 Central heat is set to air on BBC 2 on Wednesday 3rd April at 8pm, featuring three chefs from the Midlands: Kray Treadwell, Sabrina Gidda and Ryan Simpson-Trotman. 

We spoke to them to hear what it was like to take part in the competition, now in its fourteenth edition. This week's contestants will be judged by No6 chef and industry veteran Paul Ainsworth. Two of them will make it to the judge's table on Friday, where Matthew Fort, Oliver Peyton and  Andi Oliver will be joined by UB40's Ali Campbell.

Kray Treadwell is from Solihull in the outskirts of Birmingham and is the head chef at Michael O'Hare's Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds. Contrary to the other two contestants in the Central heat, this year was his first time on the Great British Menu. 

You were the only newcomer in the central heat. How was that?

It was good. It was hard the first day because the other two  knew each other before and knew they were doing it so they had more of a bond. 

What did you think of the 50 years of British music brief?

I thought the brief was excellent, maybe the best brief ever. Usually there's not a lot that you can do to make food look like the brief. With music, I think there's a bigger scope for that. 

Can you tell me about your Grime-inspired Fire in the Booth starter?

Grime music has been the most up and coming music in the last ten years. As a young chef, it was natural to me as I enjoy listening to it - and to be fair I didn't think anyone else would. It might be frowned upon but it has come a long way, and so has food in that sense.

What was your dish and what was the connection with Grime?

Fire in the Booth is a platform for UK Grime Artists to showcase their work, British Menu is a competition for young up and coming chefs, so I think it's very similar.

Obviously, calling it Fire in the Booth there had to be some level of spice. I wanted it to taste like junk food, but elevate it, so I did veal sweetbread, deep fried them in buttermilk - almost like chicken nuggets - with hot sauce and elevated with caviar and taro and a garlic puree.

I heard  Sabrina and Ryan had some issues with the pressure cookers in the starter, did that make you feel quietly confident? 

It made me feel confident but obviously I knew that they'd pull it back. I wasn't myself in the first round, I was really nervous. It was like being in the TV screen. 

Disdain for OrthodoxyWhat inspired your fish course, Disdain for Orthodoxy

Disdain for Orthodoxy was to do with punk music. Like with food, punk music was a way to express yourself;  going against the grain, doing what made you happy and taking a risk. It was about it was about being yourself and not caring what anyone thought. I think with the dish that I did, it could either have gone one way or the other.

You were either going to love it or you were gonna hate it. I feel like that's the same with punk music.

Image: Disdain for Orthodoxy, BBC 2

I used the bones from the ray to make them look like a Mohican.

I steamed them for four hours, then dehydrated them for 24 hours and then deep fried them. They were edible. It wasn't the nicest thing in the world to eat, but I really went into the brief: it's not the nicest thing to eat but it looks cool as fuck. And so does punk music.

Can you tell us a bit more about your main course?

Most of  my menu wasn't very personal to me. It was eras of music and  what they've done for society. With my main course it was more personal - Ozzy Osborne was from Birmingham, he was dyslexic also like myself - but it didn't stop him doing what he wanted to do and achieving his goals.

 I also had girlfriend whose dad was a roadie for Black Sabbath. Sabbath means Sunday. I didn't want to do a Sunday roast, but I wanted to do elements of a Sunday roast.

The Wagyu beef was obviously the Sunday beef; the only reason I used purple potatoes is because of the purple, and Black Sabbath used to be purple and black so.

Do they taste the same?17742443 high res great british menu

Well Paul Ainsworth didn't think they taste the same (laughs). I think they were good enough.

The scones replicated a Yorkshire pudding, in a sense of that was a starch for the dish and I did a smoked beetroot sauce and grated blue cheese. So it was steak and cheese with American biscuits.

Am I right in thinking your dessert was a bit tongue in cheek, inspired by the smell of Brian Ferry's aftershave? I wouldn't have put you down as a fan.

You know I'm not a fan, but like I said, throughout my menu, it was to do with what artists have done for some and what a generation of music has done for society, so with the dish - The New Romance - it was to do with an era of music that changes our perception of masculinity.

Image: From left to right, Sabrina Gidda, Kray Treadwell, Paul Ainsworth, Ryan Simpson-Trotman

If I was to walk down the high street now in high heels and make-up, it would be less frowned upon because there've been people that have been here before us.

Brian Ferry started that. Also, the reason I use the ingredients from the aftershave is that when you go out and listen to music, the last thing I do when I get ready is put on aftershave and then I feel a million times better and more confident.

The flavours went together, and I could use the aftershave - when the guests received the dish they also received a sample of the aftershave, whether they wanted to smell the flavours that were in the dish or just have it.

The dessert was poached peach in tonka nut oil, white chocolate mousse with apple marigold, peach and sea fennel sorbet, a tuile and a white chocolate shard.

When you entered the competition, which of your dishes did you really want to take through to the banquet?

I wanted the main course to make it to the banquet just because it had more of a personal connection. So for me, that's the one that I wanted to get to the banquet but I would have been happy with any of them getting to the banquet.