Food News

Great British Menu 2015: Wales week recap

So, it’s over, and thank goodness for that as Wales week will not be a week that goes down in Great British Menu history!

This week saw Stephen Gomes, a talented Indian chef who seemed not to understand the brief at any stage, go up against Phil Carmichael (who had trained under a Michelin star chef) and Adam Bannister, who had more than enough enthusiasm but lacked consistency.

Stephen was clearly out of his depth, scoring a five (yes, not a typo he actually scored a five) for his dessert course and causing confusion throughout with his poorly spiced Indian food. As a result, the heats were somewhat lacking in close competition.

With the main bit of drama this week coming in the form of Adam managing to nearly knock himself out during the cooking process, you can see that it wasn’t really the feast of fine food and cooking we were hoping for. After all of the week’s action, shockingly (not!) Adam and Phil went through to cook for the judges.

In short, the heats essentially told us that the chefs were all using Welsh lamb for their main courses and that neither Adam nor Phil are great dessert chefs (Stephen thought he was yet scored a five with a weird and slightly creepy soap dish).

Phil’s menu started with the allotment, a dish that focused on edible soil, pickled veg, and some ham hock in a tin. While it looked alright and got average noises from the judges, it was not a dish to set the world on fire, even with the addition of garlic bread to give the dish some texture after this was suggested in the heats.

Contrasting to this, Adam started well with his suckling pignic. The name alone is a winner for me but the actual cooking and way the dish was presented was excellent. With the pastry paying homage to the WI and the pork all cooked well, this was a dish that shone.

The fish dishes were both very poor. Adam had a minor meltdown in the kitchen trying to perfect the cumber jelly from his salmon and cucumber dish and to top everything else off, the bread he used to wrap his salmon in was shop bought..!

Phil fared slightly better with his fish dish but this was still essentially a restaurant dish with some ‘smoke’ drama added to try and make it banquet-worthy.

The main dishes were a much better effort, with ‘a hug for mum’ from Phil offering a nicely cooked lamb breast and some ‘drama’ with a teapot full of lamb consommé that judges didn’t know whether to pour over their food or drink from the teapot. Not bad seemed to sum it up nicely.

Adam offered another lamb dish with the WI theme of Jerusa-lamb. This was a clever bit of cooking – lamb faggots with lamb fillet cooked (but still medium) on the inside. This was an excellent dish for a restaurant and definitely made me want to go to Adam’s restaurant but, despite the high praise from the normal judges, I felt inclined to agree with the WI guest judge, who wasn’t quite as taken with this dish. It was, however, still far better than the offering from Phil.

On to dessert and we may as well just skip this section for Adam. It just went wrong. As Yorkshire is my adopted home I feel inclined to be offended by the title of his pudding ‘A sweet forced to be reckoned with’ as Yorkshire is the home of forced rhubarb and Wales is not exactly seen as the place for it. In truth, the name was not quite as offensive as the sponge, which was lovingly described by one judge as being like soggy cardboard!

With all to play for, Phil tried to step it up with his WI jammin’ at the fete pudding that had no Jamaican/Bob Marley feel to it other than the name; the dish was essentially a collection of cakes and jams. Some were done well and some weren’t. In truth, he had clearly tried to rely on some special presentation to elevate an otherwise average dish. In my notes of the show I have written the harsh but probably true notion that the dish had ‘too many elements and not enough quality’, which might just about sum up Welsh week!

With the cooking and eating done, Adam triumphed by one point. While I had thought Phil might just sneak it, I can’t imagine any of the other heat winners so far will be quaking in their boots unless Adam ups his game for the final!

Dishes for the banquet? I think that if Adam can find a way to bring a bit more razzmatazz to his suckling pignic then we could be seeing this as a contender to go all the way – despite the technical challenge to make the elements en masse. The judges loved Adam’s main but in my view it’s just not strong enough to compete against the best dishes out there to win in the hardest category!

Categories: Food News

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5 replies »

  1. I think you are wrong about Steven not meeting the brief, I think some of his ideas were great, even if the flavours were less so.

    How could Adams dessert get a 6 when When Stevens far more interesting (just needed a little more lavender and sweetness) got a 5?


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