Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Josh Overington, North East heat

The  Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2017 chefs from North East: Josh Overington

This year Josh Overington takes on Tommy Banks and Danny Parker in a bid to make it through to the Great British Menu 2017 banquet which celebrates 140 years of Wimbledon. This year’s brief is to create dishes that capture ‘a taste of summer’ paying tribute to the history and prestige of the Wimbledon Championships.

Josh Overington, Great British Menu 2017
Josh Overington

Chef Josh Overington, along with his partner, Vicky took over the French restaurant, Le Cochon Avenue in York from Michelin starred chef, Michel O’Hare back in 2014. The duo has since taken the French neighbourhood bistro to a more fine dining atmosphere with a relaxed feel. Prior to taking over Le Cochon Avenue, Josh worked at the Pipe and Glass and the Waterside Inn before moving to Paris to train at Le Cordon Bleu.

Why did you want to be involved in GBM?

I wanted to do it just because in England it’s the pinnacle of what the best chefs in the UK do and I think I represent one of the best restaurants up here in Yorkshire so I wanted to showcase what I do and get to my name on the map.

How tough was it to come up with dishes which fit the brief (Wimbledon – taste of summer)?

To be honest I found it a bit like a double-edged sword. I found ‘the taste of summer’ very easy and that’s every chef’s dream at the end of the day because you have the best produce to work with. But the Wimbledon side of it was quite difficult because I have never watched Wimbledon and have no interest in tennis! But I found it fine and worked around it.

I took the summer side of it and ran with that, I wasn’t going to attempt to do that much with Wimbledon because I have never watched it and didn’t think that would be the right thing to do. I’m not a big fan of people making things like tennis balls or anything like that, it’s just not my style so I shied away from that side of it.”

Did you enjoy being pushed out of your comfort zone, and how difficult was it to cook in the GBM kitchen alongside other chefs?

Absolutely, there’s no way that it cannot push you out of your comfort zone. I think when you go into a competition like Great British Menu it’s designed to make the chef feel nervous and edgy and push them a little bit further because at the end of the day my comfort zone, like most chefs, is in the kitchen. So when you’re out of it (the kitchen) and doing something completely different it is difficult and it does push you out of your comfort zone.great british menu 2017

>>> Read: Josh Overington, chef patron, Le Cochon Aveugle

I didn’t find the cooking in a different kitchen difficult, I think the most difficult part is the time restraint. The way I cook is to take my time with things and to get everything perfect and when you add a massive time restraint to that it makes it incredibly difficult to do what I do so I think that was probably the biggest challenge.

Did you feel under pressure to create theatrical dishes rather than well cooked dishes served simply on a plate?

I think that was one of the biggest challenges as well, the way the show goes you have this monkey on your back to have really big props, elaborate plates and stuff like that and I’m a bit like a half-way house. I’m not a huge fan on doing it because at the end of the day it’s a competition and the best chefs and the best cooks should go through. So when I look at people who use big elaborate props it’s not really my thing but I did a little bit.

Best and worst part of being on GBM?

The worst part is the paranoia of how you’re going to come across, especially leading up to it the last two months because you’re not sure how to act when you’re there but eventually you realise that being yourself is the best way to come across.

The best part about it is that it’s a massive confidence boost of what you do because you’re up against two other chefs who are completely accomplished themselves and they’re testing themselves against you so when you do really well you’re so elated. At the same time though if you do badly you feel deflated so there are good and bad parts.

great british menu 2017Would you do it again?

I think I would do it again. How can I say it without sounding awful?! When you see you can beat a chef you get a massive confidence boost and feel like ‘oh I can do that again’ and do even better and get higher scores.

If you were scoring your dishes would you agree with what your judge said or not? If not why not?

I thought the scoring was just about on point apart from my highest score because that was my weakest dish in my opinion.

How nerve-wracking was it to cook for your peers?

It was nerve-wracking waiting to see who would be my veteran judge and when I found out I had no idea who they were! So if I’m honest it was probably more nerve wrecking cooking against Tommy and Danny because I know how to cook and it’s very personal food and they’re either going to like it or not like it at the end of the day. And I told myself when they came through the door it wouldn’t matter and it didn’t.

>>> Read more about Great British Menu 2017 here

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd May 2017

Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Josh Overington, North East heat