From Willy Wonka’s Three-Course Dinner Gum to Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, children’s literature is packed full of imaginative foods to inspire the talented professional chefs coming from all corners of the UK to compete in this year’s Great British Menu. The question is: which chefs will come up with the most creative menu to earn a place at the final banquet celebrating children’s literature?
It is 150 years since the death of Charles Dickens, author of Oliver Twist, the first book in English to feature a child in the titular role and as protagonist. Since then, British writers and illustrators have written a wide variety of novels and picture books aimed at children and young people, many of which devote pages to a love of food.
It’s not just up to the three judges to decide who gets through each week, as a guest will be joining to help select the best dishes from each region in the Friday regional final. Representing the breadth of children’s literature, guest judges include comedian and children’s author David Baddiel, teen novelists Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson, and award-winning writer of The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson.
As well as another exciting theme this series, the programme has an additional chef competing for each region. Of the four chefs competing each week, the lowest scoring chef will leave after the starters and fish course in the first episode of the weekly heats and will not get the chance to cook their whole menu for the veteran chef scoring the first stages of the contest. This makes the competition more intense than ever and any mistakes could lead to an early exit for even the best of chefs.
On day two of the competition, the three remaining chefs will battle it out over main course and desserts. The two highest scoring chefs cook for the judges in the final Friday episode with just one getting the chance to represent their country or region in the national finals.
There are also two extra mini courses: an amuse-bouche to tantalise the tastebuds before the starter arrives and a pre-dessert that acts as a palate cleanser and ushers in dessert. The six courses reflect a more contemporary tasting menu, with lighter fish and main courses.
Patrick Holland, BBC Two Controller says: “Great British Menu continues to grow and develop at the heart of the BBC Two schedule, showcasing the very best of the nation’s chef talent. With the new challenges, the series just got tougher than ever.”
Oliver Peyton says: “All good food has a story.”
Andi Oliver says: “I am so thrilled about the theme for this year’s Great British Menu. Books have always played a pivotal role in my life, so celebrating 150 years of children’s literature fills me with such joy! The kitchen is buzzing with creativity and we have a whole new family of exciting, inspired chefs to introduce you all to. This year is truly astonishing and moving, I can’t wait for everyone to experience it too.”
Matthew Fort says: “Food and children’s books – what a wonderful combination. Both are doorways to fabulous worlds. At their best, both celebrate the power of imagination. And I have the feeling that we’re going to get rather a lot of that.”
- March 2020
- BBC TWO
BBC Two’s Great British Menu is back and it makes history as the Palace of Westminster opens its doors for the first televised banquet to be held in the historic House of Commons Members’ Dining Room.
In a bid to cook at this ultimate banquet, the competition reaches new highs in the kitchen as past record scores are equalled then smashed.
The regional heats see one newcomer achieve the highest mark ever given in the competition’s history.
This year, the chefs are competing to cook at the banquet in honour of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘Great Britons’.
At a time when British cuisine is respected and revered around the world, the chefs are challenged to create dishes which could be a fitting legacy to our Modern Elizabethan Age. In the year the country celebrated the Queen’s 90th birthday, the chefs have been inspired by the transformation in British food throughout her historic reign, and by the achievements of Her Majesty’s Great Britons.
These are ordinary, everyday people who have been recognised on the Queen’s birthday and New Year’s honours’ list over the years for their extraordinary achievements in different walks of life.
Some of these Great Britons have been given OBEs, CBEs, MBEs or the BEM for going above and beyond for their community, their charity or for their country. Others have won the highest military honour, the VC, or been given medals for gallantry for courage at home and overseas.
In the regional heats, the chefs’ dishes will be judged by eight competition veterans who are now among the most accomplished and successful chefs in the UK. They include Daniel Clifford, Simon Rogan, Phil Howard, Richard Corrigan, Michael O’Hare and Angela Hartnett.
The two chefs who are scored most highly by the veteran judges will then present their four-course menu to award-winning restaurant critic Matthew Fort; doyenne of British cookery, Prue Leith; and acclaimed restaurateur Oliver Peyton.
Each week the panel of three will be joined by a guest judge who has been feted in his or her field. They include award-winning food writers and critics as well as esteemed chefs and restaurateurs honoured for their services to the hospitality industry.
Together, with the Great British Menu judges, they will decide which chef will be the champion of their region, and worthy of potentially becoming an ambassador for contemporary British cuisine.
The eight regional winners will then compete in the National Finals for a chance to cook at the Great Britons Banquet at the Houses of Parliament.
- May 2018
- BBC Two
World-class chefs from across the nation once again sharpen their knives and perfect their menus as they prepare for battle in the UK’s longest running and most loved food competition series, Great British Menu.
The chefs pay tribute to 140 years of Wimbledon and new panellist Andi Oliver takes to the judging chamber.
Great British Menu returns to BBC Two to celebrate 140 incredible years of the Wimbledon Championships, the oldest and most prestigious grand slam tournament in the world.
This year, as the series celebrates its 500th episode, Oliver Peyton and Matthew Fort are joined in the judging chamber by a new member of the panel, food broadcaster and restaurateur Andi Oliver.
Helping them select the winning dishes are a host of guest judges who understand the skill and dedication required to triumph in SW19 including Gordon Reid MBE, Men’s Wheelchair Champion; Leon Smith, former coach of Andy Murray and Davis Cup Captain; Annabel Croft, previous British No.1 and Wimbledon royalty Sue Barker and Tim Henman.
The competition challenges 24 of the nation’s top chefs to create exceptional dishes fit to serve at this year’s banquet held in the shadow of Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Their creations must celebrate this year’s brief A Taste Of Summer reflecting the tastes, smells and colours of everybody’s favourite time of year and paying tribute to the incredible history and prestige of the Wimbledon Championships.
The competing chefs include previous banquet winners and ambitious first time competitors all cooking at the top of their game. In each weekly regional heat, three chefs first battle it out to impress a formidable veteran judge whose identity isn’t revealed until they walk through the door. Holding eight Michelin stars between them the veterans are some of the biggest names in the UK restaurant scene and include Tom Aikens, Angela Hartnett, Michael O’Hare, Daniel Clifford and Nathan Outlaw.
Only two chefs make it through to the Friday regional final where they need to convince the formidable panel of judges that their dishes deserve a place in the national finals