Great British Menu 2015 - North West heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th September 2015

Meet the Great British Menu 2015 contestants from the North West: Matt Worswick, Matt Ellis and Eve Townson.

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.

Matt Worswick Great British Menu 2015

Matt Worswick

Great British Menu 2015

Matt Worswick, The Lawns 

Matt is executive chef at the three AA Rosette restaurant The Lawns. He leads a kitchen team of 21 members in the restaurant, which is located in the Thornton Hall Hotel in Wirral. As an 18 year old looking for a job that would take him away from home, entering the catering industry seemed like the perfect opportunity.

>>> Read: Matt Worswick, Head Chef, The Latymer at Pennyhill Park

He started working as a chef almost straight after leaving school, working at the Tean restaurant under Michelin-starred chef, Kenny Atkinson on the Scilly Isles. Matt said: “I loved the restaurant as soon as I walked in, I thought it was amazing and the day goes really quickly.”

The Liverpool-born 27-year-old has also worked as sous chef at Le Champignon Sauvage in Cheltenham, which is owned by the celebrated chef David Everitt-Matthias. But, it was in 2013, working at Glenapp Castle in Scotland, where Matt gained his Michelin-star.

Matt enjoys cooking for fine diners and values Thornton Hall for its different outlets, as it enables him to cook a variety of different foods.Matt Worswick Great British Menu 2015 The Lawns Restaurant offers a fine dining experience of an international cuisine. It features an afternoon tea menu, lunch menu, evening menu, Sunday lunch and dinner menu, as well as a lounge menu and wine list.

The tasting menu is Matt’s signature creation, offering a variety of tasty dishes. Matt has essentially grown up with The Great British Menu, watching it for the past ten years and is now pleased to have the opportunity to be part of it.

“I’ve always been amazed by the standard of food on the show,” said Matt. “Also, the different personalities and styles of chefs opened my eyes to what other people are doing.”

Matt was asked to be a contestant after people noticed, through the hotel and social networking sites, the quality of his dishes. He hasn’t worked with any of the other contestants before, but is excited to see how each of the chefs are portrayed on the television once it has been edited.

Mark Ellis Great British Menu 2015

Mark Ellis

Great British Menu 2015

Mark Ellis, 1851 Restaurant at Peckforton Castle

Mark has been the head chef at 1851 Restaurant at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire since 2008. The celebrated restaurant prides itself with three AA Rosettes and a Taste Cheshire Award.

Originally from Wirral, Mark became interested in cooking whilst he was still at school. After studying cooking at college he started out in the catering industry as a commis chef. Then, in 2001 he entered the world of fine dining when he began work as sous chef at the five star hotel The Chester Grosvenor with Michelin-starred chef Simon Radley, where he learned both classic French and modernist cookery under Simon’s tutelage. Mark left after four years to experience more of the UK, during this time he worked in some of the country’s finest restaurants, including at Petrus for Gordon Ramsay.

The 1851 Restaurant offers modern interpretations of classic British dishes and is reflective of its grand surroundings. Mark is dedicated to using the best possible ingredients, so the menu is made up of locally grown ingredients, which include beef, Cheshire salmon and cheese. Mark and his team offer satisfying, top quality food served with a bit of humour on the side.

Were you a fan of the show?

Yes I’ve been a big fan of the show, I think it is the premier cookery competition to be involved in, to be counted with the biggest names in the industry is an honour. I had to do it this time around after not being entirely happy with my performance last year for the D-day banquet!

>>> Related: Former Great British Menu contestant, Mark Ellis announces departure from Peckforton Castle to open first solo venture

Were you aware of either Matt or Eve before?

I knew of Matt as he is exec. chef of Thornton Hall Hotel, which is just down the road from where I am originally from, and he’s been doing some amazing things there; although had never met him. Eve was completely new to me, she was delightful! She has a great personality and her food is delicious.Mark Ellis Great British Menu 2015

How easy was it coming up with your dishes for this year’s theme? Easier than D-Day or harder?

After doing research I found that the briefs were very similar as the W.I was formed in response to World War Two effectively; so I wanted to try a different approach to my usual modernist style, to see if I would fair any better and hopefully get further in the competition. I agreed to do it this year at the 11th hour and although I did some good research and met some fantastic women from my local W.I, I think I still could have been prepared and used my experience from last year better.

Eve Townson Great British Menu 2015

Eve Townson

Great British Menu 2015

Eve Townson, Eagle and Child

Always having an interest in cooking Eve spent a lot of time in the kitchen with both her Nanna and my Grandma as a child. She said: “I got my first job, aged 15, working in a hotel near my house, waiting-on. Whilst I was at University (studying Hospitality Management) I decided that I really wanted to be in the kitchen rather than front of house and/or doing paperwork”.

Now an executive chef at the award-winning Eagle and Child in Ramsbottom, Lancashire and co-founder of Be Chocolate, with her husband, Eve also helps to tackle youth unemployment through the Eagle and Child’s ‘EAT Pennies’ scheme, which supports the training of 16-25 year olds. Eve said: “Eagle+Child opened in October 2011, two months after I had my little boy, Arthur. Glen, the owner, and I have been great pals since we were 15.

We opened the pub together after both leaving our previous jobs and deciding it was 'now or never' “Glen had been made redundant and I was looking for a new challenge after having an accident at work which left me with serious problems with my leg”.

Fast forward four years and The Eagle andChild found itself as a new entry in The Good Food Guide 2015 and also appearing in the Independent’s top 50 Sunday Roasts list.
 Offering innovative traditional pub food with all the ingredients both locally sourced and home-grown which feature in the pub’s Sunday lunch, specials and main menu.

Speaking about BEChocolate Eve explains how BE Chocolate came about Eve Townson Great British Menu 2015she said: “My husband made our wedding favours - 72 fabulous chocolate boxes filled with a chocolate chefs hat; chocolate spoon and chocolate high heeled shoe. After that we decided to pull on his talent and open the business doing exactly what we love”

What made you want to take part in GBM?

I fell into GBM! I was contacted by the production team to see if I might be interested in taking part. I said 'I wasn't adverse to finding out more about it!' I've watched every series of the programme and always said I'd never put myself out for that kind of judging -I've eaten my words now!!

How easy was it creating dishes for the WI theme?

Creating the dishes was quite easy! I really related to the brief because of my upbringing - home cooked food, cooking with my Nanna and my Mum; and I have a really close relationship with my mum who is most definitely the most inspirational woman to me.

Eve Townson Great British Menu 2015The whole thing was really emotional for me because of the close knit relationship I have with my mum and being a mum myself now. The WI is about inspiring women and my mum truly is one to me. Also I'm very lucky having Bryan, my husband, as a help because he is a chef too. We live food at our house so it was really great bouncing ideas off each other.

Upon reflection would you do it again?

Ha! Ha!! I would do it again - now I know a bit more of what to expect! I'd like the opportunity to do it again having that insight - I think it would be a very different experience!

>>> Read about the chefs in previous Great British Menu heats here

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2015 here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th September 2015

Great British Menu 2015 - North West heat