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Great British Menu 2011 – South East

Great British Menu 2011 [ about the series | The People’s Banquet (finals) ]

North East : N. Ireland : North West : Central : South West : Scotland : Wales : South East

The chefs : The food : The results : Your comments

This week’s chefs on The Great British Menu are from the South East and are all Michelin Star holders. They’ll be hoping to impress mentor Jason Atherton enough to earn a place cooking for the judges on Friday, and to get their dish onto the menu at The People’s Banquet at London’s Leadenhall Market
Phil Thompson. Tom Kerridge, Jason Atherton and Tom Aikens

Phil Thompson. Tom Kerridge, Jason Atherton and Tom Aikens

The Chefs

Tom Kerridge

Chef Patron at The Hand and Flowers in Marlow
Tom and his wife Beth established The Hand and Flowers in 2005 and within a year they earned a Michelin Star, an Egon Ronay Star and 3 AA Rosettes. Before The Hand and Flowers, Tom was head chef at Adlards in Norwich and senior sous chef at Monsieur Max.

Phil Thomspon

Executive Chef at Auberge du Lac in Welwyn Garden City
Phil began washing up in kitchens when he was in his teens but soon began cooking and preparing food. Being a chef runs in the blood with his mum, sister and previously his nan all cooking for a living. Phils cooking career began at The Lanesborough as a commis chef before moving onto L’Escargot. The chef has been working at Auberge du Lac since 2002.

Tom Aikens

Chef Owner at Tom Aikens Restaurant in Chelsea, London
Toms career began at the Mirabelle Restaurant in Eastbourne as a commis chef. Tom worked in both the restaurant and private sector (working for Lord Lloyd Webber at one point) before starting his own restaurant in 2003. His restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star in 2004.

Jason Atherton (guest mentor & judge)

Chef Patron at Pollen Street Social in Mayfair, London
Their mentor and guest judge is also no stranger to Michelin Stars having trained at the three-starred El Buli restaurant in Spain, and held one himself while running Maze. His new restaurant, Pollen Street Social in London’s Mayfair opened earlier this year to rave reviews.

The Food


Tom Kerridge knew what to expect when he arrived in the kitchen today as he cooked for Prince Charles last year after winning his heat. He remained calm while preparing his Spring lamb broth. The dish was inspired by Vietnamese/Malaysian street food and was a soup served with a puffed pastry lid. The broth from the soup was then ladled onto some raw lamb which cooked with the heat. Jason thought the dish wasn’t as extravagant as the others but thought it was really tasty, describing the dish as a knockout. [ Score: 9 ]

Chef Phil cooked a Velouté of spring pea & rabbit canapés which raised concerns with Jason as it was being prepared with frozen peas. He served the velouté with rabbit chops, spinach wrapped rabbit loin and scotch eggs made using the leg meat. Jason found some of the rabbit to be overcooked and undercooked, but thought the presentation was fantastic. [ Score : 7 ]

Tom Aikens served up a third soup of the day with his Quail consommé with quail dumplings and spring vegetables. Tom clarified his broth to ensure a really clear liquid and poached his quail breasts and dumplings. He added some luxury touches with stuffed quail with cabbage and fois gras and truffles. Jason thought it looked very much like a restaurant dish but that it had a really great flavour. [ Score: 8 ]

Fish course

Tom Kerridge was cooking blind today when he prepared his lobster burger, The Chef is allergic to shellfish. The dish was described as ‘the ultimate burger’ with a lobster (cooked in bacon fat) and mackerel patty, home made cheese slice, slow roasted tomato in a brioche bun served with a Union flag in the top and thermidor mayonnaise on the side. Chef Phil thought that it was the best burger he’d ever eaten and judge Jason Atherton thought it had the wow factor and was well executed, but does a burger meet the brief of a fish course. [ Score : 8 ]

Phil served a selection of East End classics on his Seaside platter with sardine rollmops, pickled cockles and winkles and London Pride beer battered sole. Both Jason and the other chefs questioned whether it was just a plate of canapes rather than a fish course. [ Score : 8 ]

Tom prepared a poached shank of monkfish with morels and asparagus. Tom was criticised yesterday for his restaurant style food and today was no different. Jason had never eaten monkfish shank though and thought it was a really nice flavour and cut, but he did think the presentation might lead to the dish getting cold when served for 100 people (the fish was to be carved at the table). [ Score : 8 ]

Main course

The pressure was on Tom Kerridge as he won this course last year, he chose to prepare Roast hog with salt baked potatoes and apple sauce. The potatoes were baked in a salt pastry crust tied up with rope to look like a sack of potatoes for guests to open at the table. Tom stuffed trotters with shoulder, liver and bacon, rolled the pork belly, made pigs head fritters and decanted cider into stoneware flasks. He also made his own salad cream, which none of the other chefs had tasted before. During the prep, Tom had two bales of hay delivered to sit on while eating the food. When Jason first saw the dish he thought that maybe there was too much protein on the plate, but thought the dish met the brief perfectly, and had a real fun element to it. [ Score : 10 ]

Phil went back to his roots for this course and cooked a dish of Pie, mash & liquor. Although the dish wasn’t the traditional presentation, or recipe, the basic elements were the same. The chef made a liquor from parsley, tarragon and vinegar and put mushrooms in his pie. The other chefs wondered if it was a dish for a spring banquet. Jason thought the meat was a little chewy but that the pie was ‘top class’. [ Score : 9 ]

Tom Aikens was very keen to catch up to Tom Kerridge today when he prepared his Roast suckling pig with broad beans, peas and black pudding. Originally Toms dish was just going to be the leg of suckling pig, but taking on board feedback from previous days about his food being too restauranty, he decided to change his dish – he even had some new serving planks delivered while cooking. Tom served up ears, ribs, cutlets, leg, belly and crispy skin on a wooden plank. The other chefs worried if the food would stay hot when being served for 100 people. Jason thought the presentation was great, but thought the mash was a little dry. [ Score : 9 ]


Tom Kerridge was nervous preparing his dessert this year as he made mistakes last year. For this years dessert he assembled a Pick your own strawberries and cream with tonka cream, honeycomb, wine vinegar jelly, liquorice meringues, aniseed flavour cress and strawberry sorbet. All this was served in closed strawberry shaped (and coloured dishes) in a crate of strawberry plants. The other chefs thought the dish tasted good and wasn’t too sweet. Jason commented that the presentation of it could have been very cheesy, but as it was done by Tom, it wasn’t. [ Score : 9 ]

Phil Thompson prepared one of his childhood favourites today with a Vanilla & mint Viennese ice-cream with vanilla candy floss. He layered up mint and vanilla ice cream (although these were melting due to the heat in the kitchen) with tempered chocolate and then coated the sides in chocolate hundreds and thousands. It was presented on a specially designed ice box with candy floss sticks to the sides. The other chefs thought the appearance of the dish was great. Jason however thought that maybe it was a bit too simple and really was just ‘ice cream’. [ Score : 7 ]

Tom Aikens prepared a Rhubarb & rose parfait with rhubarb tapioca served with piped meringue over the top to make it into a baked Alaska. Tom made his first mistake of the week when he overcooked his meringues and had to start again. The presentation of the dish was amazing with the chef making use of the perspex boxes he had delivered yesterday to stand up some roses and rhubarb storks. The other chefs thought the rhubarb was lovely and it went with the rose well. Jason commented that the chef had taken on board comments earlier in the week about presentation but did worry if it could be prepared for 100 people due to all the last minute preparation. [ Score : 7 ]

The Results

Phil wasn’t able to score higher than Tom Aikens in the dessert course so he was the chef with the lowest total score. When both the Toms cooked for the judges they were stuck as to which menu was their favourite. They ultimately chose Tom Kerridges menu but they felt that both chefs struggled with the dessert course.

Photos: BBC/Optomen/Andrew Hayes-Watkins

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