Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Mike Reid, London/South East

The Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2017 chefs from London/South East: Mike Reid 

This year Mike Reid takes on  Selin Kiazim and Tom Kemble 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. 

Mike Reid Great British Menu 2017
Mike Reid

Mike Reid started his career in 2001 at Truffles of Southsea brasserie whilst studying at the University of Portsmouth. He then graduated and moved to London, working at famed restaurants Le Gavroche and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay before becoming executive chef for the Gaucho restaurant group. 

In 2013, Michael left the UK for Australia and worked in Melbourne at several successful restaurants including a stint at multi-award winning Attica. In 2014, Michael decided to open two restaurants on opposite sides of the globe, Jardin Tan in Melbourne and M in London. They now have a second site for M Restaurants in Victoria Street, with a third in the pipeline, and Michael has released ‘M: A 24-hour cookbook’. 

Why did you want to get involved in Great British Menu?

It’s a show that I’ve watched for the last decade and there’s been some amazing talent throughout the competition over the years. It was a thing where if the opportunity came up, I didn’t know if I would say yes or no and then when it did, I thought I’d give it a shot. It was very much a spur of the moment decision but it’s something I’ve probably been aspiring to for my whole career.

How tough is it to come up with dishes which fit the brief?

The challenge for that, more than anything, was that it was almost two briefs within one. So, it was ‘A Taste of Summer’ but it was also ‘Celebrating Wimbledon’- making sure dishes hit both of those separate elements was a challenge. But ultimately, I love summer - I love summer ingredients and the produce at that time is phenomenal so I had a lot of fun creating the menu and then tying it into the Wimbledon theme. I’m also a huge tennis fan so it was like fate when I found out the brief!

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

Yes and no. Ultimately, I wanted my food to speak for itself and be the star of the show but watching it through the years as I have, I’m aware that the props play a huge part. Not necessarily with the veteran chef judges but if you get through to the judging panel, they really make props a focal point.Mike reid great british menu 2017

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

It was a different environment and I think we were lucky. I got on with Tom and Selin very well and we were all first-timers, so it was a new experience for us all. It’s very different to cooking in your own kitchen every day though - you know where everything is, you know how the equipment reacts, so to be cooking in a completely different kitchen is always difficult. But then to do it in front of the cameras is even more difficult and it was something very much out of our comfort zones. It was fun, but it was only really fun after the work had finished!

 What were the best and worst parts of being on GBM?

 At the end of the day, it’s a competition and ultimately, when you’re under that kind of pressure and you’re that busy, in your own kitchen, the last thing you would do is stop to have a conversation! You would crack on and you’d get it done. But ultimately, you’re under so much pressure to produce dishes, whilst having to hold a conversation and explain the elements. Doing demos and masterclasses and presentations at cookery schools is one thing, but we weren’t doing that. We were trying to produce amazing food which would get us through, but having to do that side of the job at the same time which was definitely the most challenging part. If you could just be left alone and cook for an hour and a half it would be so much easier - but it wouldn’t make good TV!

Honestly, it was a lot of fun though. It was really hard and there was a lot of pressure but we had fun and they were really good guys. We all had very different styles of cooking, which was one of the things that I enjoyed and we had a lot of banter in the kitchen. Like I said, I’ve been watching the show for over a decade so to be on it was a great experience.

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

great british menu 2017 It’s another dimension on top. To be honest, it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be because we get judged every day in our restaurants - every time you serve up a plate of food, every time you create a new dish, you’re getting judged.

Yes, it’s different when it’s being judged by someone who actually understands food to that sort of level but at the same time, if someone enjoys your food, no matter who they are, it’s an amazing feeling and if someone doesn’t enjoy your food, no matter who they are, it hurts. So, it was okay for me.

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

Some yes, some no! We can go into more detail after the show!

Would you do it again?

 I would love to come back, but maybe it will be as veteran judge or maybe not... you’ll find out soon enough! 

>>> Find out about all of the Great British Menu 2017 chefs here

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd May 2017

Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Mike Reid, London/South East