Great British Menu 2021 chefs: Dave Critchley, North West heat

The  Staff Canteen

Executive head chef director for Lu Ban restaurant group Dave Critchley is one of four chefs competing for the North West on Great British Menu 2021.

Series 16 of the competition starts on Wednesday 24th March on BBC Two at 8pm, The North West heat will be on Wednesday 5th May, Thursday 6th May and Friday 7th May. All episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

The competition pitted Dave against Kirk Haworth, Dan McGeorge and Ashwani Rangta. However, Ashwani scored lower than his rivals for his starter and fish course and was thus sent home after the first day of the North West heat. Dave was next to go after the second day, leaving Dan and Kirk to cook their whole menu for the judge's chamber on Friday.


The Childwall-born chef studied art and was midway through an illustration and graphics degree in North Wales when he decided to go down the hospitality route. 

Fast-forward 23 years, and Dave has worked in Liverpool's top restaurants, from Noble House to The London Carriage Works at Hope Street Hotel (alongside chef Paul Askew, now at The Art School).

Dave now oversees the operations across the Lu Ban Restaurant Group as the company's executive head chef director. 



'The Blind Radical's Cure' was inspired by Edward Rushton, a writer and poet who, when working as a sailor lost his eyesight and went on to found the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool - the world's first school for the visually impaired. 

Replicating a 17th century sailor's lunch, Dave made a longhorn beef fillet tartare with cured Chinese egg yolk emulsion and toasted soda bread biscuits, which he served with marinated silverside jerky and a beef tea. 

Veteran judge Tom Aikens gave the chef a 6/10 score for the dish.

Fish course 

'With Courage, Anything is Possible' was Dave's tribute to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and it being the first hovercraft rescue service in Merseyside. 

Attempting to place the land, sea and air elements on his plate, Dave served line-caught seabass, razorclams and cockles on top of a fennel 'sand' with a smoked pork loin chowder sauce and foam as well as seaherbs.

Tom deemed it to be worth 6/10 points.

Main course

Dave's main course, 'The Saint of the slums,' was inspired by Kitty Wilson, who opened the UK's first public washhouse in 1832, saving thousands from succumbing to cholera. Because she travelled from Ireland to Liverpool, the dish traced that journey, serving Kerry Farm mutton - pressure-cooked, pan-fried loin coated in herbs and a scouse-like shoulder stew, served with potatoes, vegetables and lamb jus. 

Tom gave it a score of 7/10.


For his dessert, 'A Tropical Remedy,' inspired by the Liverpool school of Tropical Medicine, founded in 1898, Dave made a microwave ginger sponge cake, poached and caramelised pineapple, stem ginger caramel sauce, coconut vanilla mousse, served with a banana espuma rum cocktail. Like his main course, it received 7/10 points.

Full name

David Joseph Critchley


Dave, China Dave, Digz, Critch, Asian Dave, Chef


38 (I think), born 27/01/1983

Place of birth / residence


Relationship status / children

Married, father to one son



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

Executive head chef of a new restaurant brand

Favourite type of cuisine

Has to be Chinese

Path to becoming a chef

Self-taught after training to be a Children’s book illustrator

Past and present place of work

Lu Ban (Liverpool), Australasia (Manchester), The London Carriage Works , Hope Street Hotel (Liverpool). Alma de Cuba group (Liverpool) Noble House (Liverpool), 52 Lark Lane (Liverpool), Neighbourhood (Liverpool) The Everest hotel (Maghull), The halfway house (Liverpool) first job

Personal and professional mentors / role models 

My parents and the many good chefs I’ve worked with over 23 years.

Guilty pleasure dish

Pepperoni pizza

Best / worst thing about being a chef

The best thing is the adrenaline of service, the worst thing is chef's arse.

FeeEings  stepping onto the GBM set

It felt amazing in the sense that it’s something I had aspired to do for years, and absolutely terrifying in equal measure 

Thoughts about the 'British Innovation' theme this year

The theme was really tricky this year, (If only I’d been chosen last year!) matching dishes to particular inventions and innovators was a real challenge.

Plans for the future


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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 7th May 2021

Great British Menu 2021 chefs: Dave Critchley, North West heat