Great British Menu 2021: Alex Bond, North East Heat

The  Staff Canteen

chef and owner of Michelin-starred Alchemilla Alex Bond is one of four chefs representing the North East on Great British Menu 2021.

Series 16 of the competition starts on Wednesday 24th March and will air on BBC Two at 8pm every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for eight weeks. All episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Alex went head to head with head chef at one Michelin star restaurant Winteringham Fields, Gareth Bartram; head chef at The Princess of Shoreditch Ruth Hansom and head chef of two Michelin-starred Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs Tom Spenceley.

This is Alex's second time on Great British Menu, as he also took part in the 2020 competition.

As per the programme's new format which starts each heat with four chefs (as opposed to three in previous years), Ruth was eliminated after the fish course. Gareth was second to exit the GBM kitchen, leaving Tom and Alex to cook for the judges on the third day of their heat. 

His dishes impressed judges Matthew Fort, Oliver Peyton, Rachel Khoo and guest judge Sophie Conran - celebrated designer, innovator and daughter of much-revered Sir Terence Conran - letting him through to the national finals airing on Monday 17th, Tuesday 18th, Wednesday 19th, Thursday 20th and Friday 21st May 2021.

Alex's starter, The Founding Father, came first in the rankings on the first day of the finals, making it the first banquet dish of the week.

'The Founding Father,' coddled duck egg with cep and truffle, recipe here

Biography

Originally from Yorkshire, Alex has worked at multiple acclaimed restaurants, including Auberge du Lac, Turners and The Wild Rabbit.

He learned from some of the greats: Jeff Baker at 42 The Calls taught him the value or rigour and organisation; at Anthony's, in Leeds, when kitchens working at a molecular level were few and far between, he learnt a unique way of looking at ingredients. Sat Bains gave him more creative freedom, encouraging him to try new things - which is something he applies at Alchemilla. 

In 2019, the Michelin inspectors paid Alchemilla a surprise visit ahead of the 2020 guide release to give the team their first Michelin star. 

Whilst not entirely plant-based, Alex's food usually places vegetables, legumes and fruit centre stage, letting meat and fish play supporting roles.

This is  Alex's second time on Great British Menu as he represented the North East in the 2020 competition, and the chef will also be appearing on Snackmasters, facing Tom Aikens in an attempt to recreate KFC's iconic Zinger Burger.

Dishes

Starter

For his starter, ‘The Founding Father’, Alex was inspired by Dr. Robert Edwards.

To honour his invention of IVF, he prepared a coddled duck egg which he cooked in its own shell in a bain marie with an aerated hollandaise, fermented cep caramel, preserved lemon, vinegar jelly, cep puree, truffle goat’s curd, chicken skin and duxelles. 

Veteran judge Simon Rogan gave it a 9/10 score. 

Fish Course

Alex’s fish course, ‘I don’t mean to be shellfish but you’ve got to go,’ didn’t include any fish at all. Instead, it consisted of barbecued celeriac puree, mussels with hervs and spices, split mussel and lovage oil topped with a potato cracker. Simon Rogan deemed it perfectly acceptable not to have used fish and gave it 8/10 points.

Main Course

Alex’s main course, ‘Pasty black,’ was a tribute to George Stevenson’s improvement of lamp safety in coal mines.

He made a shortcrust pastry pasty with mutton fat and butter which he served with mutton saddle, pressing the mutton breast and slow-cooking then barbecuing the belly, plated up with butter hash brown, pickled onion ketchup, ash leeks and swede puree. Simon Rogan was blown away by the dish, the idea behind it and the presentation, scoring it 10/10 points.

Dessert

The chef’s ‘Apple White’ dessert was inspired by Sir Jony Ive of Newcastle Polytechnic University's - former Chief Design Officer for Apple -  design of the iPod and the Macbook.

To this end, Alex created a multi-layered encased white chocolate apple, filling one half with artichoke puree and chocolate ganache and the other half with enriched vanilla mascarpone, white chocolate, coffee and chicory namelaka. Deeming it slightly too sweet, veteran judge Simon Rogan gave it a score of 8/10.

Full name

Alex Bond

Nickname

Age/DOB

37, born 12/09/83

Place of birth / residence

Born in Yorkshire, live in Notts

Relationship status / children

Married 9 years to Anna

Height

5ft 10 and half 

Type of chef (restaurant, hotel, development chef, etc.)

Chef owner restaurant Alchemilla 

Favourite type of cuisine

Indian

Path to becoming a chef

A windy one

Past and present place of work

42 the calls, Anthony’s, Sat Bains, Auberge du Lac, Turners, Wild Rabbit 

Alchemilla 

Guilty pleasure dish

Sausage, egg, chips and beans. But I don’t feel guilty

Best / worst thing about being a chef

Best thing the creativeness l, the self expression and the people in our industry. Worst thing the hours and the people in our industry 

Feelings  stepping onto the GBM set

Buzzing. Been there once so loads more chilled this year 

Thoughts about the 'British Innovation' theme this year

Theme was great. Harder than it seemed on the surface. Linking the innovation to food was a tough en 

Plans for the future

World domination, or just a new bar next door I’m happy with either.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st May 2021

Great British Menu 2021: Alex Bond, North East Heat