Great British Menu 2022 chefs: Gemma Austin, Northern Ireland heat

The Staff Canteen

Chef and founder of A Peculiar Tea Gemma Austin is one of four chefs competing for Northern Ireland on Great British Menu 2022

Series 17 of the competition starts on February 1st 2022 on BBC Two at 8pm and will air every Tuesday at 8pm, every Wednesday at 9pm (as of the week commencing March 7th) and Thursday at 8pm for eight weeks.

Gemma is going head to head with chefs Chris McClurg, Stephen Hope and Marty McAdam in a bid to represent Northern Ireland in the regional finals, and ultimately cook a dish at the final banquet on Friday 1st April at 7:30pm. Gemma is returning to the BBC Two programme for the second time, having taken part for the first time in 2021.

As per the programme's format, one chef is eliminated from the competition after cooking their starter and fish course, and Marty was the first to go. Despite a tight race between Gemma and Stephen for mains and dessert, Stephen fell behind, leaving Gemma and Chris to cook for the judge's chamber on Thursday, 24th March.


Gemma had originally planned to become a nurse when a spinal injury left her unable to complete the training. She then began a software programming course, thinking she had found her passion, but was once again disappointed.

In a eureka moment, she took on a kitchen job, transferred to a Culinary Arts management course at The Ulster University where she was already enrolled, and spent the next four years studying and working full-time.

During that time, she worked at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, where she rose to head pastry chef, before moving to The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn, climbing the ranks from commis chef to senior-sous chef at the 2 AA-Rosette hotel. She then transitioned to a role as the executive chef and co-owner of Alexander's and Co. in Holywood.

Last year, she opened a permanent site of her own following the success of her 'A Peculiar Tea' pop-up, serving themed dinners and afternoon tea with a twist.

When she competed on the BBC programme in 2021, the chef made it through to the judge's chamber, just falling short of securing a spot in the regional finals.

This year, her dishes will attempt to meet the BBC's centenary brief with a nod to the 'Proms in the Park' broadcast, as well as to the hit drama series, Line of Duty.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 24th March 2022

Great British Menu 2022 chefs: Gemma Austin, Northern Ireland heat