Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Paul Croasdale, Wales heat

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th June 2017

Meet the Great British Menu 2017 chefs from Wales: Paul Croasdale

This year Paul Croasdale takes on Nick Brodie, and Phil Carmichael 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.

Paul Croasdale, head chef, Alyn Williams at the Westbury
Paul Croasdale

Starting out in Abersoch, North Wales, Paul moved on to head many prestigious restaurants, including Jason Atherton’s Berners Tavern, holding two rosettes in the AA Restaurant Guide, and Michelin starred Texture and Ynyshir Hall. Today, Paul is head chef at Michelin starred Alyn Williams at the Westbury. His first time on the Great British Menu is not without complications and he’s telling us why.

>>> Related: Alyn Williams, Chef Patron, Alyn Williams at The Westbury

Why did you want to be involved in GBM?

I was in the process of opening Hurley House Hotel, and I thought it would be great timing for the opening. Unfortunately, I then left before it opened because what we were doing had changed but it was still a great opportunity so I was determined to do it!

How tough was it to come up with dishes which fit the brief: a taste of summer, Wimbledon?

Coming up with ideas is part of being a chef so that part wasn’t difficult, but I’d left Hurley House and then spent some time in hospital, so the hardest thing wasn’t coming up with the dishes it was not having a kitchen to try my ideas out.

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

It was always going to be theatrical, but it actually seemed as though they wanted more dishes served on plates rather than loads of props. It seemed more about the food which suited me. I used one prop and that’s about 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?

Yeah, I enjoyed the challenge and obviously I was cooking against my old boss, Phil Carmichael which was brilliant! But again, I hadn’t been able to spend much time developing my dishes and I felt I was going into it a little bit blind. That really pushed me though, but it didn’t exactly help with the nerves! It was all just good fun to be honest, especially being back in the kitchen with Phil. It was good to see him again and to see him doing so well.great british menu 2017

Best and worst part of being on GBM?

Again the only bad point for me was that I hadn’t been able to refine my dishes, so I was worried about looking daft. The best art was probably my veteran judge, having a Michelin star chef judge my food was brilliant.

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

No, definitely not. I would have scored myself much lower than he did. I’d have given my starter a five, and my dessert a two. He was far more complimentary than I would have been. I’m really self-critical.

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

To be honest, you don’t really have time to get nervous on the day and once the filming starts it goes pretty quickly. The week before was the nerve-wracking one with everything that had gone on in the run up. I had everything worked out in my head but you want to be able to try things out and make those initial mistakes or tweaks off camera! So that was the nervy bit. Once you’re there it goes so fast, you’re in and out of the kitchen, the filming’s done and it’s all over.

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

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th June 2017

Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Paul Croasdale, Wales heat