Great British Menu 2021 chefs: Nat Tallents, South West heat

The  Staff Canteen

Chef and Private Catering company owner Nat Tallents is one of four chefs representing the South West region 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. The South West heat will be on Wednesday 12th May, Thursday 13th May and Friday 14th May. All episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Nat competed against Jude Kereama, chef and owner of Kota, Kota Kai, and Kuki; Head chef at Kerridge's Bar and Grill, Nick Beardshaw and head chef at The Angel Dartmouth, Elly Wentworth.Caught in a tie-break with Nat after the starter and fish course, Elly narrowly secured a spot in the second day of the South West heat, meaning Nat was the first to go home.

The restaurant manager turned chef was mentored by chef Tim Bilton at The Butchers Arms in Hepworth, so well that she made it onto MasterChef: The Professionals in 2012. In 2014, she moved from Yorkshire to Cornwall, where she became head chef of Lusty Glaze Beach - a restaurant, cafe and wedding and events venue - followed by an exec chef role at  The Lewinnick Lodge in Newquay. 

In 2018, the chef launched her private catering company, Food by Nat Tallents.

Dishes

Starter

Nat's fish course, 'A leaf less ordinary,' was inspired by celebrated botanist Mary Roper, and consisted of a savoury onion custard, savoury crumble made with rye, black tahini and molasses, blanched carrots, mushrooms, pickled beetroot, cauliflower leaves, crispy mealworms and ants and edible flowers. 

Veteran judge Angela Hartnett scored the dish 7/10 points.

Fish course

Nat's main course paid tribute to celebrated 19th century English paleontologist, Mary Anning, presenting a giant hand-dived scallop with squid-ink battered hake, a seaweed and spinach risott, a lemon hollandaie, pickled samphire and crispy kale.

Angela gave the dish a score of 6/10, meaning Nat was caught in a tie-break with rival chef Elly Wentworth. Tied even on their amuse-bouche, Andi and Angela made the final call to let Elly go through to the second day of the South West heat.

Full name

Nat Tallents

Nickname 

N/A

Age/DOB

34, born 12/5/1986

Place of birth / residence

I’m from Oldham originally but have lived in Newquay for the last 8 years

Relationship status / children

Height

5'7

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

Executive chef & manager so I look after kitchen and do a lot with service & front of house too, I love being part of both sides.

Favourite type of cuisine

I mainly cook British foods but I love eating Mexican food

Path to becoming a chef

I worked front of house from being 14 and worked into being a restaurant manager then just felt chefs had more fun so I quit my job and got a job as a commis chef for Tim Bilton in Yorkshire and 18 months later I was the head chef. Something just clicked!

Past and present place of work

I worked for Tim for about 3.5 years before moving to Cornwall where I have been executive chef for Lusty Glaze Beach & Lewinnick Lodge and recently helped to set up all the catering for The Box museum in Plymouth. I also do my own private dining in holiday homes around Cornwall.

Personal and professional mentors / role models 

Tim Bilton was my first chef mentor and taught me so much, I owe a lot to him. I also love Marco Pierre white, I have his face tattooed on my arm, which was a funny conversation when I met him. And Massimo bottura as I love the work his does within commutes and working with sustainability and reducing food waste etc.

Guilty pleasure dish

I’m northern, so gravy is always a week spot for me, but also crumpets, it’s literally my goto whenever I don’t know what to eat or can’t be bothered to cook!

Best / worst thing about being a chef

Best thing is feeding people, that utter delight when someone eats something you’ve created, there is nothing like it.

The worst thing is finding balance in your life, it’s really difficult to be a chef and be anything else, a partner, a friend so finding balance is hard.

Feelings  stepping onto the GBM set

Its been a bucket list goal for me for a good 10 years so being on the set was awesome, albeit scary!! But the crew and staff really do make you feel at home throughout the process.

Thoughts about the 'British Innovation' theme this year

At first I thought innovation and food, wow but once you get into the research ideas just come from everywhere. I as walking around with a notebook everywhere I went.

Plans for the future

So many! I started a degree last year in sustainable tourism in the hope I can effect some change within the industry and make a small difference.

But my ultimate goal is to write a book, not a cookery book but a book about food. I come from the opposite of a foodie family. (My dad still hasn’t eaten a slice of pizza, a curry or even an onion! ) so I didn’t grow up cooking with relatives or anything so it’ll be comedy/romantic story about my journey through food. I’ve started it, so one day!

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 13th May 2021

Great British Menu 2021 chefs: Nat Tallents, South West heat