Exclusive Interviews

Mark Ellis discusses Great British Menu, Gordon Ramsay and insects!

In the second of our interviews with chefs competing on Great British Menu 2015 (check out our first interview with Danni Barry here), we’ve spoken to Mark Ellis, head chef at 1851 Restaurant at Peckforton Castle. Mark is a holder of three AA rosettes and a Taste Cheshire Award. He has been head chef at 1851 Restaurant since 2008.

IMG_0714 MARK ELLIS

Here’s what he had to say about competing on the show and about his wider life in the food industry…

What inspired you to compete on Great British Menu 2015?

Having done it in 2014, I wanted to return with a simpler style of cooking, and the Women’s Institute Centenary was the perfect brief to do that.

Who is your food hero and how have they influenced your style of cooking?

I have been lucky enough to work in some of the best kitchens in the country, so have adopted the best elements from them. At the moment I really love what UK chefs are doing, Daniel Clifford, Tom Aikens, Kenny Atkinson, and Aiden Byrne to name a few. Gordon Ramsay was probably my biggest influence overall.

What dish at 1851 Restaurant are you most proud of?

I am immensely proud of every dish we produce. It would not leave the kitchen if I wasn’t; that’s the high standard customers have come to expect. A dish will not even make it onto the menu until it’s been tested, tried, and tasted until I feel it cannot be improved.

How hard was it to avoid creating ‘restaurant’ dishes on Great British Menu?

Very. It’s very tempting to try and do that style of food when that’s what you’re constantly doing, but those kind of dishes never do well on Great British Menu, as good as they may be.

What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?

I don’t really consider any food as strange, but I’m not a big fan of ‘bush tucker’. Insects and testicles just don’t appeal to me!

Which is your favourite restaurant?

I’ve eaten in some great places this year such as Alimentum in Cambridge and House of Tides in Newcastle, and they are definitely on my returns list.

Thanks very much Mark for speaking to us and best of luck with the competition! You can see Mark competing on Great British Menu during North West week, starting on 14th September.

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