Colin McGurran, Phil Howard, Daniel Clifford and Simon Rogan won the chance to cook at an Olympic Feast after winning the final rounds of BBC cookery competition Great British Menu.
The four chefs, who between them hold four Michelin stars, saw off competition from 20 of the country’s top culinary talent to win the chance to cook a course each at the banquet.
Newcomer to the competition McGurran, chef-patron at the two-AA-rosette Winteringham Fields restaurant with rooms in Scunthorpe, was chosen to cook the starter.
Following negative feedback in the north east regional heat from judges Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton, McGurran was almost not allowed to cook in the final. But he opted to tweak his ‘quail in the woods’ by adding three new elements to the dish: pastry, black garlic and a miso glaze.
Fort said it was not recognisably the same dish and “yummy”, while guest judge Richard Corrigan said it had wonderful presentation and “utter deliciousness in its eating.”
Two-Michelin-starred Phil Howard, head chef and co-owner of the Square in London, was another newcomer to the competition. Despite being eliminated from the starter cook-off, Howard came back strong and wowed the judges with his fish course.
Leith said that Howard’s dish, a tasting of Cornish mackerel with oysters, mussels, winkles and samphire, had a “restrained elegant perfection” even with the addition of a smoke-filled cloche, while Peyton said the mackerel tartare was one of the best he’d ever tasted.
Daniel Clifford, chef-patron at two-Michelin-starred Midsummer House in Cambridge and creative director at caterer Kudos, was the winner of the main course.
His dish of slow-poached chicken, sweetcorn egg, spinach with bacon and peas scored a perfect 10 in the central regional heat and once again impressed the panel, including guest chef judge Tom Kerridge.
Peyton said it was a “killer” dish and Fort described it as a “virtuoso display of controlled cooking technique” and the “forefront of British cooking”.
Simon Rogan, chef patron of one-Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cumbria and Roganic in London, won the dessert course with his groundbreaking techniques, used in his dish of poached pears, atsina cress snow, sweet cheese ice-cream and rosehip syrup.
Leith said she couldn’t fault the pudding and guest chef judge Angela Hartnett said Rogan’s dish of hazelnuts and sweet cheese, rosehips and anise hyssop was so good, she could have eaten three servings.
The final episode of Great British Menu will see the four chefs cook their winning dishes at an Olympic feast for British sporting heroes hosted by Sir Steve Redgrave at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.