Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Pip Lacey, Central heat

The  Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2017 chefs from Central: Pip Lacey

This year Pip Lacey takes on Ryan Simpson and Nick Deverell-Smith 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.

Pip Lacey great british menu 2017
Pip Lacey

Pip first came to London at 19 to pursue a career in graphic design, but ventured into catering when she was 27. Pip met Angela Hartnett at her first catering position at Gordon Ramsay’s York and Albany. She joined Murano in 2011, and has been head chef there since 2014. Her first time on Great British Menu was in 2015, but after a year’s absence, she’s back on our screens.

You’ve done Great British Menu before in 2015, what prompted you to do it again?

I had a wicked time on it, when you looked back at it through rose-tinted glasses. I met some awesome people and you kinda forget the stresses. There was no reason why not to do it again and try to go all the way this time. You just want to prove to yourself that you can compete in your profession, so I thought, why not.

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

This year was a lot easier than last time because the brief was right up my street. I love tennis. So as soon as I read Wimbledon, I was like ‘yes’! Coming up with things like the Women’s Institute was a bit like ‘okay… right…’ I had to go away and research a lot, whilst this, research was already in my memory.

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

I think that’s about getting the balance of having a bit of theatre and something that’s still tasting nice and fitting the brief. You can’t just come up with a plain plate of food unless it’s the best thing that they’ve ever tasted in their lives which is quite a risk. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the hardest things, balancing that confidence in your cooking ability and still bringing a little bit of theatre. I’m quite creative, so for me it was good. I made them all the props myself, which is quite a tall order.

Did you enjoy being pushed out of your comfort zone, and how difficult was it to cook in the Great British Menu kitchen alongside other chefs?great british menu 2017

It’s a nice kitchen to cook in; you feel comfortable, so you naturally want to push yourself out of that comfort zone. I knew I had to, if I wanted to get any further. I was slightly thinking, Ryan and Nick have never competed before so I had some advantage, but you don’t at all. You all got the same time, you all try to push yourselves to the limit. It was really good to be in the same kitchen as the people you admire. They’re just fun guys to be with and it was a pleasant experience.

Best and worst part of being on Great British Menu?

The worst is when things just go wrong like they do in an every day normal kitchen. It’s going to be on national television; you don’t want to look like an idiot. The best thing is meeting the people you meet, tasting the food, the things you experience in a high pressure situation, and learning how to cope with it. It was good to step out of your own kitchen into a different kitchen, and different cooking. I’ve always cooked for Angela, so it was cooking for myself, really. It’s a nice change.

>>> Related: Pip Lacey, Head Chef, Murano

Would you do it again?

I don’t know. The last time, the whole crew asked ‘would you do it again’, but I just don’t know where I’m going to be in a year’s time. It’s so time-consuming, and even though it’s great, there’s a lot of stress, so straight after, you’re like ‘I’m never doing that again, too much’. And as time goes by, you look back you reflect. So maybe.

great british menu 2017If you were scoring your dishes would you agree with what your judge said or not? If not why not?

You’ll have to watch it, I think. I haven’t done any dish that I didn’t think was worthy. Sometimes, yeah, I’d disagree with their scores. I tried my dishes out with chefs and my peers who I work with and got different responses to that of the judges. It’s just different. Some people like some things, some people don’t. I hate peas, so if I had a pea dish, I probably wouldn’t like it. It’s subjective.

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

The most nerve-wracking thing about it is being judged. It’s just being criticised is the hardest thing in life. It’s just how you take it and whether you take in on board or you disagree. You’ve got to stick to your convictions. If someone doesn’t like it, then it’s just one opinion.

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

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th June 2017

Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Pip Lacey, Central heat