Food News

Great British Menu Series 11: North West Week recap

Another excellent week of this year’s Great British Menu saw Adam Reid, Kim Woodward and last year’s talented regional champion Matt Worswick compete to be the pride of one of the most competitive judging regions in the UK. With Phil Howard as the judge, things were never going to be easy for this talented trio. However, after a year without representation at the banquet, the North West was certain to be looking to come back with a bang!

Having previously been at the banquet himself, Phil knows what it takes to get a dish all the way through to the business end of GBM. Adam is part of the ongoing battle to get Manchester back on the map with a Michelin star, and it would surely add a feather to his cap if he could make it past last year’s champ Matt. Kim, meanwhile, had already shown her fearless side, becoming the first female head chef at the Savoy.

The chefs are obviously closely matched in skills, so the early rounds were hard to choose between. It ultimately all came down to the dessert round to differentiate them. Matt had previously fallen down on his pud in the last series (only getting a 5), but his Peach Melba was stunning. He avoided the fundamental flaws of last year, reinventing a classic in true style. That said, it was still in doubt as to whether he would progress, as Adam had decided to take on the apple crumble, the dish Matt failed with last year. Adam showed finesse to create blown sugar apples and a very refined dish. Not to be outdone, Kim took on the crown jewels! Her modern take on this great British piece of history was not so well received by the other chefs, who felt it was several dishes trying to be one.

In the final count, Adam and Matt scraped through to face the judges, with Kim left regretting the 6’s on her starter and main.

Matt’s Liver and Onions lacked refinement in the heats, but the judges were blown away by the smell of onion gravy combined with perfectly cooked ox liver. The dish was questioned as to whether it would be banquet worthy though.

Adam’s ‘From Pakoras To The Palace’ starter was certainly a great celebration of the Indian influence on British cooking and culture. However, while elegant looking, this spicy starter divided the judges when it came to whether or not it was modern enough for the banquet.

With honours relatively even (though Adam was just shading it in our view) the fish dishes were of course going to be crucial. Matt went for a modern twist on the classic prawn cocktail. Sadly, despite a good score from Phil, this dish bombed with the judges, who said it was less marie rose and more marie celeste!

This left Adam with a great chance to strut into the lead with his By The Seaside dish. With the hake and chips really hitting the brief with a great mixture of modern techniques improving on a classic British dish, this dish left it in no doubt that Adam was in the lead and also that he might now have a chance to get a dish into the banquet.

 

Given the chance to extend his lead straightaway, Adam cracked on with his Time For Tea dish, taking the big risk of cooking very rare beef. While the flavours were not under question, the dish failed to inspire the judges, leaving Matt with a chance to get back in the competition.

With his twist on a dish that we would need a fair amount of convincing to enjoy, Coronation Chicken, having scored well with Phil, he was certainly in with a chance to get back into the mix. Often on this show, these chances are missed, but Matt’s own bombay mix and perfectly cooked elements meant that the dish was the first to be tipped by the judges to be banquet-worthy. It seemed probable that it could well earn 10s all round.

Of course, in the heats, Adam had stolen the lead at the last minute with his dessert dish Golden Empire and it was now his chance to repeat history by doing the same in this round. With the judges united that the dish was a definite 10 (in fact Pru wanted to give it a 12!) it seemed Matt would need to pull out some real magic to stand a chance with his Peach Melba.

Matt was dedicated enough to consider changing his presentation at the last moment, but the truth was that his earlier dishes (and Adam’s amazing dessert) had left him in a position where he didn’t stand a chance. Therefore, despite his best efforts, it was no shock that it was Adam and not Matt making it to the final.

Dish for the banquet? Dessert is really hotting up this year and Matt would probably have been at the banquet with his coronation chicken dish, however we’re quite convinced that Adam’s Golden Empire will be representing the North West at the banquet.

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