Great British Menu – Seven years on

As we come to the end of the latest series I reflect on the programme that has been in our living rooms now since 2006. We have seen 8 banquets and at the start of this year I was sceptical that it could capture my attention once again. The ‘brief’, as is now common every year, on this occasion was to produce laughter through their food for a celebration of 25 years of Comic Relief. Quite the challenge as food is usually a serious business, and this showed. In this series more than any other that brief has been missed with plates of great, but unfunny, food being presented. However one of the great joys of GBM is the platform it gives to some of the great chefs of the UK. Outside of the handful of superchefs, Ramsay, Roux et al.  The competition over the years has played hosted to our current generation of culinary elite:

  • Simon Rogan
  • Sat Bains
  • Marcus Wareing
  • Michael Caines
  • Tom Kerridge
  • Nathan Outlaw
  • Daniel Clifford

All currently holding 2* establishments, more than a third at this level in the UK. It is this continued interest in the competition from top chefs which impresses me. The more cynical people might say that it is all about promoting themselves and their establishments, if anything this series demonstrates there is much more to it than that. We rarely get to see the up-and-coming talent that this country has to offer. In series 8 in enjoyed seeing the food of Peter Sanchez-Iglesias and Emily Watkins, in a South West heat full of newcomers and the larger than life Tom Aikens, one of the most exciting chefs cooking in the UK today.

Great British Menu - Central Heat

Great British Menu – Central Heat

The passion of the competition can be summed up this year by Daniel Clifford, having got a dish all the way to the banquet the year before he could be forgiven for not even competing this year. But he returned, and pushed himself even further with 2 dishes in contention of reaching that final supper. He seemed truly humbled being judged by Marcus Wareing and always encouraging to his fellow competitors, there is always a sense of camaraderie. A highlight of the series was probably the preparation of his fish course in front of his fellow chefs where he got the shakes when plating up. Even the big boys get nervous when it means something to them.

Daniel Clifford's "Catch of the Day"

Daniel Clifford’s “Catch of the Day”

So what is the future for GBM? Ratings have been steady over the history of the programme and it has been commissioned for next year. Will you be watching?