Great British Menu 2021 chefs: Liam Dillon, Central heat

The  Staff Canteen

Chef and owner of The Boat Inn, Liam Dillon, is one of four chefs in the Central region line-up on Great British Menu 2021.

Series 16 of the competition starts on Wednesday 24th March and will air on BBC Two at 8pm. The central heat is first, with episodes on Wednesday 24th, Thursday 25th and Friday 26th March.

Liam is competing against Hicce's Shannon Johnson - who, as per the new format, was eliminated from the competition after the fish course -  Sabrina Gidda of Allbright Mayfair, and Stuart Collins, chef and co-owner of Docket No 33.

Liam left the competition after the dessert course, coming last out of the three remaining chefs on the scoreboard.

Hosted by former judge Andi Oliver, the Central heat is judged by veteran chef and the executive at Northcote Manor, Lisa Goodwin-Allen, with Simon Rogan stepping in for the fish course due to Lisa's seafood allergy.

Over the course of his career, Liam has worked for the likes of Marcus Wareing, Will Holland and Tom Sellers, before setting up his own restaurant, The Boat Inn, in 2017.

Dishes

Liam's dishes on Great British Menu pay homage to local pioneers such as Lichfield born Samuel Johnson, who wrote the early Dictionary of the English language.

Starter

His starter, 'Flick the Kettle On,' inspired by the invention of the electric kettle by William Russell and Peter Hobbs, consists of a savoury bone marrow bread and butter with crispy pastry coils, vegetables, topped with a herb emulsion and served with beef broth.

Fish Course

His fish course, The Apple, draws on Sir Isaac Newton's discovery of the law of gravity, featuring an apple filled with Dorset crab, kelp and tuna jelly, pickled elderberries and topped with crackers. 

At the end of the fish course, Liam and Sabrina tied at 15 points while Stuart led the way with 17 points.

Main Course

For his main course, 'Oh No My Deer,' Liam's dish celebrates chemistry scholar, molecular structure analyst and Nobel Prize winner Dorothy Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin. It consists of juniper marinated venison wellington, faggot, heart pastrami served with jerusalem artichokes three ways - salt baked, champ and purée.

Dessert

An ode to Sir Samuel Johnson, 18th century Lichfield writer and author of A Dictionary of the English Language, his dessert, 'How Do You Spell That,'  is a layered cake comprised of coffee-soaked sponge, chocolate ganache, white chocolate mousse, chocolate glaze topped with edible text and white chocolate tuiles and served with caramel ice cream.

After the dessert course, Liam went through to the judges with a score of 34, and Sabrina went through with a score of 30.

Full name

Liam Dillon

Nickname 

Dillon - Original right!

 Age/DOB

33, born 17/04/1987

 Place of birth / residence

Lichfield, where I have since returned to live and work.

Height

6'2 I think, when I’m not hunching over a stove.  

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

I'm a restaurant chef but dabbled with fried chicken through lockdown. Does that qualify me as a bit of a Colonel Sanders? 

Favourite type of cuisine

I love everything that the UK has to offer. So I guess nowadays it would be modern British. To eat I would say Thai or anything cooked over fire.

 Path to becoming a chef

I started in a little local restaurant washing pots then I did my training at University College Birmingham (UCB) before heading down to London and abroad. 

place of work, Past and present

Marcus Wareing, La Becasse, Five Fields and Story. Other stints and experience at Noma, Eleven Madison Park & Quay. Now its all about The Boat Inn. 

Personal and professional mentors / role models 

In my personal life I look up to my family who have an amazing work ethic, all grafters and get things done.

Professionally, I would have to say that while working with Will Holland, he took me under his wing and pushed me. Other role models would have to be chefs that have put areas on the map by creating something special in unexpected places, Heston Blumenthal as one. 

Guilty pleasure dish

Cheese! I bloody love cheese! Late night cheese and some crackers from the restaurant or after clean down with an Estrella. 

Best / worst thing about being a chef

The best thing about being a chef is I am doing something that I absolutely love and at the same time making other people happy by serving delicious food.The best thing about it is the team mentality, everyone getting stuck into service. Also being able to change someone’s emotions with food.

The worst thing has to be the sacrifices that usually comes with the territory. Missed time with loved ones and friends. But I still wouldn’t change it for the world.

Feelings about being on GBM

As I’m sure you will see from the show its a very daunting experience. I've grown up watching the show so to be there myself was very strange. I definitely had to battle the mental nerves and try to focus, especially being away from my kitchen. Having grown up in Lichfield it meant a massive amount to be able to represent the city. 

Thoughts about the 'British Innovation' theme this year

Great theme but it was so vast it was hard to get it just right. When paring the food with the theme it was a difficult task. 

Plans for the future

I would love to go on the show again, it features great chefs and a fantastic team behind the camera. They did everything they could to make sure you had everything you needed.

For the restaurant, we were awarded our third rosette a couple of months after receiving our second, and we aim to keep improving everyday.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 26th March 2021

Great British Menu 2021 chefs: Liam Dillon, Central heat