Great British Menu 2014, London and South East Heat Preview

Great British Menu 2014, London and South East Heat Preview

by Mecca Ibrahim 05 May 2014

Week five of Great British Menu and it's the turn of chefs from London and the South East to go head to head. Marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the chefs have to prepare a menu that's worthy of war heroes. Four overall winners will serve veterans at a banquet in London’s magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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Mecca worked as head of social media at Great British Chefs and joined at its launch in July 2011.

Mecca worked as head of social media at Great British Chefs and joined at its launch in July 2011.

Over eight weeks twenty four of the finest chefs in the country including many chefs from Great British Chefs site are competing in regional heats for the opportunity to create a four course menu for the D Day special banquet.

We're delighted to see Adam Simmonds making a welcome return to the show. He missed out on representing his region last year, so will be hoping his experience will give him a head start against the two newcomers to the show.

Adam has worked his way from a pot washer at a pub in Leighton Buzzard to top London hotels The Ritz, The Halkin and The Lanesborough before joining Marco Pierre White at Les Saveurs in London and then moving to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, under the tutelage of Raymond Blanc. The revered chef made a lasting impression on Adam as when asked what his influences are, he said, ‘Raymond Blanc, and the seasons’.

Simmonds achieved his first Michelin star at Ynyshir Hall in Wales in 2006 before moving on to establish Adam Simmonds at Danesfield House as one of the country's finest restaurants, with a Michelin star, 4 AA rosettes and an 8/10 in the Good Food Guide (placing it at No.12 in the publication's list of top 50 restaurants for 2012); the Guide tipped Simmonds as one of its Chefs to Watch for this decade.

He is currently planning his own restaurant in London. For the brief on Great British Menu Adam's dishes play homage to the troops, significant wartime figures and those valiant members on the those on the home front.

The first of two newcomers to the show this week is Adam Byatt. Born in Essex, the son of a chef, Adam was brought up to value food and work hard. At 16, he won an apprentice chef placement at Claridge’s where – ever the grafter – he continued training whilst studying at Bournemouth’s ACA.

After a period at the Berkeley Hotel, Adam began a prosperous tenure with ‘chef’s chef’ Philip Howard at The Square. But it was Thyme, which Adam opened in 2001 in Clapham, south-west London, that gave him the kudos he deserved. After winning numerous awards, including Time Out's Restaurant of the Year 2003 and Winning the Remy Restaurant Awards 2004, his reputation was cast as one of London's most talented chefs.

In 2006, Adam launched his second Clapham-based restaurant, Trinity, which now holds three AA rosettes and has won numerous accolades, including the AA’s coveted London Restaurant of the Year. Giles Coren praised Trinity as being ‘as close to an absolutely perfect experience eating out as it is possible to have’. Byatt also owns Bistro Union in Clapham.

Adam's grandfather was an army cook in the Second World War based in Italy and Egypt. Adam will be taking a celebratory approach the competition so that the veterans get a truly luxurious experience at the banquet.

Completing the trio for London and the South East is Tom Sellers. Like Adam Simmonds, Tom started out in a pub. He moved to London when he was 17 and received his initial training under Tom Aikens.

Tom then travelled to the States where he worked for Thomas Keller at Per Se and The French Laundry, before a stint at a three Michelin-starred restaurant in France and the much lauded Noma in Copenhagen. At Great British Menu Tom will be competing against his former boss, as he worked for Adam Byatt at Trinity before opening Story.

Tom was awarded ‘Breakthrough Chef of the Year’ at the Food and Travel Awards and is now writing his first cook book. He'll be aiming to ensure all of his dishes in the show tell a story that hnoours the experiences of those in the war.

By now you'll know the show's familiar format with the chefs cooking a starter on Monday, a fish course on Tuesday, the main course on Wednesday and dessert on Thursday. A veteran judge will select two chefs to cook their menu again on Friday’s show for the judges Matthew Fort, Oliver Peyton & Prue Leith. On Friday the three judges are joined by Joy Hunter MBE - Secretary in the Cabinet War Rooms. In 1944, she carried out top-secret work for the government and typed up battle orders for D-Day