Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Tom Brown, South West heat

The  Staff Canteen

Meet the Great British Menu 2017 chefs from the South West: Tom Brown

This year Tom Brown takes on Dom Chapman and Andy Clatworthy 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. 

Tom Brown great British Menu 2017
Tom Brown

Born and bred in Cornwall, Tom was head chef at Nathan Outlaw’s former restaurant St Enodoc, but when he was offered a position at the Michelin-starred Outlaw's at the Capital, he had to take that opportunity. His Cornish roots are great influences in his cooking, which he promises to show off on Great British Menu.

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

I really like the concept of the show. I like that it’s all to do with the different regions because I’ve got a strong connection to mine. It’s such an iconic programme for chefs because all chefs watch it and everyone talks about it. To put yourself in there is like putting yourself up against the best in the industry.

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

I didn’t really think about Wimbledon, I wanted to just do the summer side which was easy because summer is when everything is in season. I tried to relate it back to the nostalgia of growing up in Cornwall.

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

To be honest, that’s my least favourite thing about the show. So many people said that ‘oh it’s Great British Menu, innit?’. Well, I didn’t want to do that. I’d rather go on there and lose than come out with a massive load of props. I’m a cook, not a Westend set designer. I wanted to let it be about the food because people lose sight of that to their detriment. If I’d have tried to put myself out of my comfort zone in that way, I’d have looked very silly.

Did you enjoy being pushed out of your comfort zone?

I’ll be honest, I feel like I was a lot less stressed than everyone else. I think a lot of people go in there and feel a huge amount of pressure because of the show, but the way I look at it, I was just cooking for four people. You cook a lot more than that at work.

How difficult was it to cook in the Great British Menu kitchen alongside other chefs?Tom brown great british menu 2017

I can imagine it being a bit tricky when there are people in there fighting for space and ovens, but we all got on really well, so there wasn’t really any of that. I knew about Dom, obviously, I had seen Dom on GBM before. It was really nice to meet him, and I have a lot of love for Dom Chapman. As much as it is a competition, we all had a bit of camaraderie.

Best and worst part of being on the Great British Menu?

The best part was just meeting everyone, seeing what they’re doing, and getting new experience, but it was very hot! In the GBM kitchen, you have to worry about the TV side of it, so it’s quite strange. There are people walking around with cameras saying ‘can you do that again’ because they want to get it on film. I spoke to a few guys, including Nathan Outlaw who has been on GBM three times now, and they all said that that is what you need to account for.

Would you do it again?

I’m not going to lie to you, it takes a huge chunk of your time. I’d definitely have to think about it. I enjoyed it so much, I’d almost do it again just to be around those people again.

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

There were a couple I thought he was a bit harsh on, and there was one that I thought he was over-generous on. So it kind of levelled out. I think my overall score for my menu was fair.

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

The peers were fine. I just didn’t want to be the guy who was there going ‘I can’t believe I overcooked this’ or ‘I can’t believe I under seasoned that’, so I tried to execute everything perfectly. It wasn’t nerve-wracking because I felt very confident in the menu. It’s always nice to get feedback but it’s much more nerve-wracking cooking for the Knightsbridge brigade; they’re a lot more discerning.

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

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th May 2017

Great British Menu 2017 chefs - Tom Brown, South West heat