Great British Menu 2015 - Wales heat

The Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2015 contestants from Wales; Adam Bannister, Phil Carmichael and Stephen Gomes.

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.

Adam Bannister Great British Menu 2015

Adam Bannister

Great British Menu 2015

Adam Bannister, Slice

Swansea born Adam Bannister started off in a pub at the age of 14 and started cooking when a chef didn’t turn up. He started to give a hand in the kitchen; that is where his interest grew. His mother and grandmother were also big influences on Adam so the decision to follow this route happened at  a young age.

Adam worked while at college at a two rosette restaurant and then moved onto Northcote as a chef de partie but  he doesn’t really advertise this as he was only there for a short space of time, he left simply due to it being too far away from home. He then spent four years at The Hardwick with Stephen Terry, starting as a CDP and then leaving as a sous chef. That is where he worked with Chris Harris, who he met at college but they worked together at The Hardwick before both deciding to work away from Wales to see what else was out there.

However they both came back to Swansea a couple of years ago and decided to open their own place together – Slice. Adam describes Slice as “good produce, the best that we can get hold of as long as it’s British, not so much local but we do support local producers, if we can get something up the road then we’re not frightened to go there.”

Slice is definitely their food, Chris and Adam like to play around with food and put new twists on it but it’s ultimately about using different ingredients that Swansea people aren’t necessarily used to.Adam Bannister Great British Menu 2015 Adam says he's developed his own style from everyone that he’s worked with.

Stephen (Terry) however played a massive part in his career, he made Adam understand flavours and the importance of good produce and that sometimes less is more; sometimes it can be simple and other times it can blow people’s minds away with more technical dishes. For Adam it’s all about good honest cooking.

Why did you want to take part in GBM?

I’ve watched it since the show started, it’s a great honour. It’s not something that you apply to, it’s something that you are asked to do.

Having now done it would you do it again and would you recommend it to other chefs?

Yeah, I would recommend it as you can meet some great people along the way. I was lucky as both Stephen and Phil are great chefs and lovely people at the same time. It’s hard and intense but you won’t experience anything like it. Adam Bannister Great British Menu 2015

How did you find cooking for the WI theme?

Sometimes with the brief it’s easier when you’re not doing it but when you’re doing it it’s actually a bit more difficult. When you get given the brief the brief and told how long you’ve got to do it you do start panicking a bit, the route I went down was classic cooking from home.

What are your future plans?

Myself and Chris said we wouldn’t have gone into business with anyone else, we run a small place and have the advantage that it’s only me. We’ve got the advantage of having control over everything. I don’t see us moving from Swansea, as it’s home, the end goal was to work away and then come back and settle down.

Phil Carmichael, Berners Tavern

Phil Carmichael Great British Menu 2015

Phil Carmichael

Great British Menu 2015

Currently head chef at Jason Atherton’s Berners Tavern, Welsh born Phil Carmichael will represent Wales in The Great British Menu's regional heats. It was while growing up in South Wales and working part-time in its restaurants that Phil first realised his culinary passion.

Meeting renowned chef Jason Atherton in 2004, their long association then began, having worked together on the opening of Gordon Ramsay's Maze Restaurant in Prague. Heading this up, he helped win the restaurant its Michelin Star, something he describes as a career highlight before it closed in 2009 and he moved on to the South African restaurant of the same name.

>>> Read our feature with Phil Carmichael here

Staying with Jason, Phil returned to London to help him with the launch of critically acclaimed restaurant, Pollen Street Social. Awarded a Michelin star shortly after opening, the restaurant is consistently ranked as one of the capital’s finest. Phil also joined Jason on a number of other high profile projects including the similarly lauded Esquina in Singapore and recently opened and equally praised Little Social in London.

Describing his own cooking style as classical and strongly influenced by chefs he's worked under, Phil is passionate about sourcing and using UK produce and ingredients maintaining strong relationships with local suppliers. Head chef at Berners Tavern, the restaurant he heads up for Jason at London's Edition Hotel in fashionable Fitzrovia, Phil said starting it three years ago it was very important with everyone involved that they knew it needed to be accessible. That anybody can walk in and feel comfortable having a burger. Phil Carmichael Great British Menu 2015

Why did you want to take part in GBM?

I’ve watched it many times and it looked like fun! From a chefs perspective it’s one of the most respected cooking shows on TV.

How easy was it deciding what to cook for this year’s WI theme?

I found it fairly straight forward. The WI has such a strong influence over British cooking so it was easy to relate to it

Do you think cookery shows like this can only help a chef’s career?

It’s not essential for a chef to do these things but it does give some great exposure for Berners Tavern.

Stephen Gomes, Moksh

Stephen Gomes Great British Menu 2015

Stephen Gomes

Great British Menu 2015

Mumbai-born chef Stephen Gomes has lived in Cardiff for the past 15 years and is chef at Moksh, Cardiff. A restaurant that aims to take on traditional Indian recipes but to experiment with natural food science in his dishes.

As a child, Stephen had hoped to be a fighter pilot – but his love of food won out and he decided to explore the flavours of his homeland, studying at the Institute of Hotel Management in Mumbai and training in the kitchens of Mumbai's five-star hotels.

Stephen is a passionate advocate of molecular gastronomy, where he uses innovative techniques to create stunning dishes, which push the boundaries of traditional Indian cooking.

This signature style has seen him cook for many dignitaries – including the former US President George Bush, a host of Hollywood and Bollywood stars, and most recently the players of both the Indian and Sri Lankan cricket teams. Committed to nurturing young talent, Stephen is also a former lecturer at the Asian Oriental School of Catering in Hackney and has lectured in modern Indian cuisine.

He continues to support young chefs coming into the industry, and offers them excellent opportunities for training by transferring his culinary skills.

He has held the title of ‘Best UK Indian Chef’ with the prestigious Cobra Good Curry Guide for a large part of the last decade and recently was crowned Goldstar English Curry Chef of the Year (2013) and Welsh Curry Chef of the Year (2014).

Stephen Gomes Great British Menu 2015He was also awarded a role of honour for his culinary excellence; received the International Cuisine Award (2009); and was recently honoured as being one of the best Indian Chefs in the world for his charity recipe in the Mood Food guide.

In 2015, he has been awarded an AA Rosette for his restaurant Moksh in Cardiff; the first Indian restaurant in Wales to achieve this prestigious accolade.

What made you want to take part in the show?

Being a chef and accepting a challenge go hand in hand. And there could be no greater challenge than cooking a deconstructed Indian meal on television.

What do you think of the WI theme – how easy was it coming up with dishes for this theme?Stephen Gomes Great British Menu 2015

WI is the home of good food and great recipes, and it was probably one of the greatest challenges I have ever had. WI is known for preservation, zero wastage and traditional cooking, and being an Indian chef and incorporating the theme was quite a difficult task. It was quite a learning point for me. However, I have to say a special thank you to everyone who supported me.

Would you recommend appearing on GBM to other chefs?

Of course yes...GBM is a great platform for all chefs from every background, as food unites the world.

>>> Read more about this year's Great British Menu here

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2015 here

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th August 2015

Great British Menu 2015 - Wales heat