Great British Menu 2015 - Central heat

The Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2015 contestants from Central England; Richard Bainbridge, Pip Lacey and Jason Hodnett.

The chefs will create British foods and must plate up perfection, as they fight it out for the chance to cook at a glorious banquet marking 100 years of the Women's Institute at London's historic Drapers Hall. The challenge is to produce 21st-century dishes that honour the custodians of first-class home cooking, and pay tribute to the generations of women who have helped make Britain the great culinary nation it is today.

Richard Bainbridge Great British Menu 2015

Richard Bainbridge

Great British Menu 2015

Richard Bainbridge, Restaurant Benedicts

Richard is co-owner of Restaurant Benedicts in Norwich with his wife Katja. The family run restaurant is a modern British bistro, serving classic British dishes with a contemporary twist. The Norfolk-born chef has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants since he was 16 years old, beginning his catering career at Morston Hall in Norfolk, owned by Galton Blackiston.

Richard left his head chef position at the Michelin-starred restaurant to open Benedicts in Norwich City Centre in April 2015. He worked at Morston Hall for seven years, during which time he also went travelling. When Richard first started at Morston Hall he sent about 25 CVs to renowned restaurants that he enjoyed, such as Le Gavroche and The Waterside Inn.

>>> Related: Richard Bainbridge leaves Morston Hall

From this he got about six job opportunities for trials and work experience, allowing him to gain skills and knowledge from all over the world, including New Zealand. Richard has also spent time cooking at René Redzepi’s Noma, Seagers in Atlanta and Roux’s The Waterside Inn. He worked at The Waterside Inn for four years, starting as commis chef and leaving as junior sous chef.

Richard had always dreamed of owning his own restaurant, so was over the moon when he opened Restaurant Benedicts earlier this year. He is passionate about using locally sourced produce so it’s an important part of his cooking.

Why did you want to take part in this series?Benedicts Caesar Salad Richard Bainbridge Great British Menu 2015

I didn’t do the year before as I felt I needed a break. I’d done a couple of years and it didn’t go where I wanted it to go plus last year it was all about the war and my wife is German so I don’t think it was a great one to be involved in.

But this time I knew it would be around the time we were opening the business and I knew what they could do to our business if it went well; so that was very much a driving force as well. If we’re going to be opening a business then lets do GBM but also I thought this is my last turn; it’s the fourth time being on the programme and this is do or die for me.

How was it creating the dishes for this year’s theme?

It was quite full on because I knew how much was riding on it this year, so there was a different pressure. I knew we were opening so that was playing in the back of my mind plus it was all about strong women and inspiring women and my whole life has been built and surrounded by strong women; from my mum, to wife, to sister even down to my restaurant manager. So I used that as an inspiration to make them proud, so the competition was almost irrelevant as I just wanted to make them proud and give back to them. BBQ'd Quail, Parsley, Bois Boudran  Richard Bainbridge

Had you worked with Pip or Jason before?

No, I had seen Jason on GBM the year before where he ended up crying on desserts and Pip I had no idea who she was before. But I was so driven to do well this year that I didn’t want to look them up to find out who they were, I was very much focused on my dishes and where I was going. But after doing it Pip and Jason are now great friends and I would have never had bet them if it wasn’t for the programme.

I think it’s a brilliant programme to be involved with and can be a great platform to showcase who you are and to get people into the restaurant also wouldn’t have friends like Daniel Clifford if it wasn’t for Great British Menu; so I’m very thankful.

Pip Lacey,  Murano

Pip Lacey Great British Menu 2015

Pip Lacey

Great British Menu 2015

Pip is head chef at Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Murano in London. She is also co-founder of the new pop up dining experience in London called The London Gap. Pip relocated to London when she was 19 in pursuit of a profession in graphic design but, at age 27, she ventured into the catering industry.

Her first catering position was at York and Albany in Camden under Angela Harnett, executive chef and proprietor of Murano. Pip joined the Murano team in 2011 and was promoted from senior sous chef to head chef in 2014, after succeeding Diego Cardoso. At the time Angela Hartnett MBE, commented: “Pip is an extremely gifted chef, who will continue to maintain the high standards I set for Murano.”

>>> Read: Pip Lacey, Head Chef, Murano

Murano opened in 2008 and was originally a joint venture with Gordon Ramsay, the restaurant opened to critical acclaim and Angela took over sole ownership in 2010. The menu is modern with an Italian accent, reflecting Angela’s family roots, and dishes change along with the seasons.

Diners can opt for a set lunch menu or flexible A la carte, with the option of wines carefully selected by Head Sommelier, Matteo Ramazzina. A chef’s table at the far end of the restaurant allows diners to enjoy a bespoke menu with direct views into the kitchen.

Why did you want to take part in Great British Menu?

Pip Lacey Great British Menu 2015I wanted to take part to challenge myself. I'm very competitive, and wanted to see how I stand up to my peers. I love what I do, and love pushing myself and knew that this would do exactly that.

Are you a fan of the show?

I've watched the majority of past series but sadly missed the one Angela competed in! I can't believe I'm now in it. I'm not sure I will be able to watch this series!

Did you enjoy working with Richard and Jason? 

I had not worked with either chef before but would love to again. They are great chefs and we had a brilliant week together. Much respect to both. I'm off to eat at Richard’s new restaurant this weekend. Really looking forward to catching up with him.

Jason Hodnett, The Raven Hotel

Jason Hodnett Great British Menu 2015

Jason Hodnett

Great British Menu 2015

Jason has been head chef at the two AA Rosette restaurant The Raven Hotel in Wenlock since 2013. The 29 year old has had a passion for cooking from a very young age and found that proceeding to a career in the kitchen was a natural career move, as his father and grandfather were military chefs.

Jason trained at Shrewsbury Redbrook College and his life has since been a story of success. By the time he was 24 he was already working as head chef at the four star, two AA Rosette Albrighton Hotel. After leaving in 2010 he became head chef at the AA Rosette fine dining restaurant and, in 2013 he started as head chef at the two AA Rosette restaurant Saracens in Hadnall, Shrewsbury.

The Great British Menu 2015 will not be Jason’s first television appearance. He was also a contestant on the show last year as well as competing on Master Chef: The Professionals in 2009 and Iron Chef UK in 2010. Now head chef of The Raven Hotel restaurant, Jason leads a team of chefs to ensure the production of quality modern and innovative British dishes using locally sourced ingredients. All items, including smoked meats, ice creams and bread are made in the restaurant’s kitchen.

It's your second GBM appearance - why did you want to do it again?

Last year I collapsed at the last course, that was the real drive because I knew I could do better. I like the competition side of it but I hate when it goes on telly! But it's nice to put yourself against people who are clearly your peers.

Jason Hodnett Great British Menu 2015Have you learnt anything from your first experience that helped this time around?

I'm as stupid as I was the first time - I learnt some things but then continued to make the same mistakes! I don't think it makes it any easier having done it before, I just think you understand the kitchen a little bit better but I think the pressure is exactly the same as it was the first year. One of the biggest problems for me is when I get an idea I stick with that idea because I'm stupid and stubborn.

What did you find most difficult?

Timing. When you go through the process you have no idea when you will be plating, so there's always a gamble as to whether you will have a enough time to plate what you want. So when you see Tim Allen burn his leeks I know it's not because he is being sloppy it's because of timing and what;s going on in the kitchen.

How did you find working with Pip and Richard?Jason Hodnett Great British Menu 2015

Richard is someone I've watched on the show for the past three years, so that's a bit nerve wracking knowing what he can pull out the bag. I didn't know a lot about Pip but I knew of her pedigree therefore I was probably more nervous than her!

Did the brief push you out of your comfort zone?

Yeah, with every course. I put a lot of pressure on myself this year and the dessert I wanted to do ended up being completely impossible so I had to adapt it. But I'd prefer to give myself too much to do and fail, knowing I'd give a thousand percent. Every dish I did I tried to do something different - not Michael O'Hare different but I took risks in different ways.

Having done it twice would you do GBM again?

I said no after the first crushing year! I said I'd never do it again - then I did it again. It consumes your whole life for about 12 months, then when it's done and aired you have a huge void - you have a GBM hole! So you look to the next thing to fill it, maybe it will be GBM again.

>>> Read about the chefs in previous heats here

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2015 here


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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 28th September 2015

Great British Menu 2015 - Central heat