Food News

Great British Menu Series 11: South West Week recap

With the formidable Lisa Allen leading the initial judging, Chris Wheeler, Jude Kereama and Josh Eggleton were not going to be in for an easy ride – and so it proved as South West Week developed!

With Josh having come ever so close to the banquet last year, he was in no mood to mess around, gaining and maintaining an early lead and leaving Jude, hoping to make a bigger impression compared to last year, and first time GBM contestant Chris Wheeler, to fight it out for the chance to impress the judges. In the end, Chris’s wonderful inventions didn’t quite manage to deliver on flavour and Jude showed why his previous experience on the show allowed him to edge ahead to take on Josh against the judges after strong main and dessert courses.

In the final, Josh’s take on coronation chicken was a mixed success, with the curry flavour a big hit but his failure to season the dish properly (as well as some soggy apricot!) leaving the dish lacking a great score. In response to this, Jude opted for another reinvented classic (though a little less British unless you count Mr Bean’s experience of it!) in the form of British Tartare. While the modern takes had some success with judge Oliver, the dish was not an overall winner, leaving the scoring in the balance.

With the fish course having been Josh’s biggest success earlier in the week, earning a score of 9 from Lisa (high praise indeed), this was his chance to storm into the lead. While his sardine bolognese as well as hake fishcakes went down well, the dish was accused of lacking that special something to elevate it to banquet status, again leaving Jude with a chance of winning the fight. Jude was using lobster, which is of course an ingredient that needs to be treated with the upmost respect, and this was in many ways a brave dish to serve to the judges, especially when it was claimed that coronation chicken had inspired the dish. The judges loved the cooking of the lobster, but sadly the flavour of mango overpowered the whole dish, giving Josh an early advantage heading into the main course battle.

Jude looked to start his comeback with his ‘V for Valour’, which was a venison Wellington-inspired dish. Enduring difficulty getting the venison cooked properly, initially coming out a bit too rare, the real problem for Jude was that the judges decided the dish had missed the brief. So, Josh had the chance to really secure his place in the finals if he could improve his main course from an average dish that he had presented to Lisa where the rib eye steak had been left too rare.  For the judges, Josh managed to get the flavour and the cooking bang on, with the only critique being that he hadn’t quite managed to make it pretty enough.

Everything was still up for grabs (just) as the dessert course loomed. Jude had a go at a really elegant and modern take on Eaton mess. He nailed the brief but failed to wow the judges, especially when he forgot to include the strawberry jelly on the dish! With Josh now almost certain to progress, it was up to him to show that his dessert was not only good enough to win this round but also to show that he can make it all the way to the banquet this year. His DIY soft scoop ice cream came so close to perfection, with the little garnishes elevating it and the presentation lending it a sense of fun. This is a dish we can see at the banquet if he can tweak it just a touch (even though we have never been fully convinced by beetroot ice cream!).

In the end, there was no surprise when Josh was picked to go through. However, the judges surprised us in their fulsome praise for his main course when we thought it would be his dessert that won him the highest praise. Regardless, we were entertained by another great week and now can’t wait for the North West week to start (with our preview now live here).

If you want to read our exclusive chat with Jude you can do so here and check out our catch-up with Chris as well while you’re at it!

Dish for the banquet? The judges loved Josh’s main course, so you have to say that three 10s give it a good chance of progression. That said, his dessert has that je ne sais quoi which could see it edge out other desserts.

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