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Great British Menu 2015: South West heat preview

Great British Menu 2015: South West heat preview

by Izzy Burton 10 August 2015

It's the second week of Great British Menu, and this time it's chefs from the South West who are competing for a place in the banquet. This year Josh Eggleton and Dominic Chapman - both familiar faces from the previous series - are joined in the kitchen by Porthleven-based chef Jude Kereama.

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From one west coast to another, it is now the turn of chefs based in the south west of England to impress the judges after Glaswegian Jak O'Donnell won the Scottish heat. While the previous week saw two young bucks take on a GBM veteran, this heat is quite the opposite with one new chef competing against two relative old-hands.

Jude Kereama is the young gunslinger competing for the first time in the GBM kitchens. Based in Porthleven, Cornwall, the chef specialises in fresh, local seafood as well as being an advocate of organic produce. Born and raised in New Zealand, the chef's idiosyncratic cooking style is inspired by his own heritage (the chef is half Maori, a quarter Malaysian and quarter Chinese) and blends flavours from all over the world.

Dominic Chapman runs The Beehive in Berkshire, a restaurant and pub with robust dishes in part inspired by his years travelling the world. The Taunton-born chef is familiar with the GBM kitchens, having competed in last year's D-Day themed competition. Unfortunately, he was knocked out by Josh Eggleton and Emily Watkins before he was able to present his food to the judges, but here's hoping this year his interpretation of the brief - largely themed around the hymn Jerusalem (does this mean artichokes, we wonder?) - will take him through to the final.

Interview with Dominic Chapman

We spoke to Dominic Chapman about his reaction to the brief, and what it was like preparing for the competition months after opening his own restaurant.

What were your first thoughts about the brief?

It was a really good brief - right up my street! A focus on British food with classic dishes and cooking methods that the WI represent and that I enjoy. Similar to last year's, which was D-Day, it's a celebration of British cuisine, it was serious - not comical, like a few year's ago! - which I prefer, and there was lot to be done.

Who was the most influential woman when it comes to your cooking?

Elizabeth David - she is one of the great reasons as to why Britain has so many great chefs. She has a simple philosophy using simple ingredients. She made delicious food that was revolutionary because of the emphasis on her travels - Mediterranean cookery with a British larder. She was a fantastic lady who was knowledgable about food and wrote brilliant books.

There were a lot of newcomers for 2015 - did this make you nervous?

Yes, there were a lot of faces that I didn't know, and it goes to show that cooking in this country is at a new level. You can never underestimate the young chefs - they're hungry, with a lot of experience under their belts. It's no surprise that there's new faces with such a lot of young talent.

How much more confident were you going into this year's competition considering it was your second time participating?

Even though it was a new brief and a new year I was a little more confident because knowing the kitchen is a great help. The GBM kitchen is full on and could put even the best chef in the country on their backside if they're not prepared.

The Beehive is still relatively new to you and your team, was it hard to pull yourself away for your heats?

It was a nightmare! I had just opened and had no time to prepare for the competition. I turned up at the GBM kitchen with hardly any practice - life of a chef, plus opening a new restaurant is pretty hectic, so it gave me little time to prepare. I had to draw on my experience to produce dishes that worked for the competition.

Jude plates up his spoons under the watchful eye of Josh Eggleton
Dominic and Josh, presumably discussing miniature jars

Another chef returning for the second time is Josh Eggleton, who owns The Pony and Trap in Chew Magna, Bristol. He is known for serving up quality, modern British food with a playful twist (such as his signature Scallop pops) which, if last year is anything to go, should result in some wonderfully innovative interpretations of the brief. Last year he impressed with his presentation and use of flavour, and narrowly missed out to Emily Watkins in the final - could this be his year?

Interview with Josh Eggleton

We spoke to Josh Eggleton about his reaction to the brief and how it was returning to the Great British Menu studios for the second time.

How would you compare a double shift in the kitchen to a day in the GBM studios?

A double shift in the kitchen currently at The Pony & Trap is great - I'm in my own kitchen so it's comfortable. GBM days are just as long if not longer. It's like you're a commis chef again, you're running around, you're on your own, or virtually on your own and it's like day one again of being an apprentice chef - really hard work.

What were your first thoughts when you got the brief?

This is a hard one! It was tough because I didn't know much about the WI but when you look into it it has 100 years of history so there is loads to know - but translating that to a plate is quite a challenge.

Who was the most influential woman when it comes to your cooking?

My mum - I was brought up in a house where fresh food was cooked every day.

There are a lot of newcomers for 2015, did you research any of the chefs from the other regions?

It's was such a hectic few months in the run up with the opening of Salt & Malt. I would have loved to check the guys out but I didn't have time except for the ones in the South West and a few names I already knew. I'll be watching alongside everyone else and meeting them that way.

How much more confident were you going into this years comp. considering it was round 2?

A little bit more confident as you know how it works. Hopefully that shows, as I made the dishes a little bit more simple - adapting to the environment and what I was walking into - which in year one you don't have a clue about.

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Great British Menu is on BBC2 Monday to Friday every week from now until 9th October. Keep up with our coverage of the series here.

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Great British Menu 2015: South West heat preview


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