April 2011 Archives

Aktar-and-Richard.jpgAnother week, another regional heat. This time the 'Central' region, which apparently includes East Anglia. Let's not quibble, it's probably been like that for all series of Great British Menu.

Aktar Islam of Lasan in Birmingham (Gordon Ramsay's F Word Best Local Restaurant 2010) goes through to compete against the other regional finalists. 

So far returning champion Lisa Allen of Northcote for the North West, Andrew Pern of Star Inn at Harome for the North East, and Chris Fearon of Queens at Deanes representing Ireland have made it through the heat stage.

Aktar saw off competition from Richard Bainbridge of of Morston Hall, Norfolk (good job EA included, eh?), who apparently has a flat cap glued to his noggin (it must get soggy in the shower).

Masterchef: Tim Anderson takes the title of Masterchef 2011

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Masterchef-Tim-Anderson.jpgTim Anderson, aka @vikingtweats for those who'd like to follow his progress post-reality series, has taken the title of Masterchef 2011.

He saw off stiff competition from Tom Whittaker (@Mr_Fennel) and Sara Danesin (@saradanesin), who both produced three dishes that were given high praise by judges Gregg Wallace (oh go on then, @puddingface) and John Torode (@jtizzled23).

Given that Tim chose to open his menu with burgers, he continued his theme of taking risks but it paid off despite Gregg and John's initial reservations. Or was that to create drama? (Cynical? Moi?)

the-clink.jpgThe Prison Restaurant, which aired last night on BBC1, was an inspirational and heartbreaking one-hour of television.

It looks behind the scenes at one of this country's most innovative methods of rehabilitating incarcerated criminals: The Clink at High Down Prison, Surrey.

Conceived by prison catering manager Alberto Crisci, possibly one of the most genuine person seen on the goggle box for quite some time, The Clink is a commercial fine dining restaurant, manned by inmates.

Al's aims are to transform the prisoners into fully trained chefs in order to enhance their prospects on release.

The Hotel Inspector: Alex Polizzi at the Hill House, Ross-on-Wye

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Hotel-Inspector-logo.jpgThe Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi this week visited The Hill House B&B, in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire is met with another seemingly unsurmountable challenge.

Owner Duncan runs the hotel single-handedly because profits are so scarce, any other staff members are simply unaffordable.

Given his laissez-faire approach to common business practice - costings, aiming to make money... that sort of thing - it's a wonder Duncan has managed to keep the B&B going as long as he has.

Guests are served fantastic, locally sourced or home produced grub. Vast platefuls of it for very little money: three courses for two people cost just £15. 

Masterchef: Sara, Tom or Tim - who will win? (POLL)

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Gregg-John.jpgTonight's penultimate episode of Masterchef saw the trio of finalists take a 24 hour trip to New York for a spot of intense  a bit of a pilgrimage for chef groupies. 

It opened with the trio of finalists being sent to New York for 24 hours to learn from three of the Big Apple culinary greats: 

Michael Anthony, at the one Michelin-starred Gramercy Tavern; Terence Brennan at the two-starred Picholine; and Wylie Dufresne of one-starred WD-50 (video interview with the molecular gastronomist from Identita 2010 here).

Then they were whisked back to the UK to spend seven and a half hours under the watchful eye of Coworth Park's consultant chef John Campbell to prepare a feast for a collection of some of the best chefs in the country: Tom Kitchin, Michael Caines, Clare Smyth, Alexis Gauthier, Yotam Ottolenghi, Marcus Wareing and Andrew Fairlie.

Masterchef: the final three get cooking down under

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Masterchef-logo.jpgOooh, who's it going to be? Garth-alike 'there's a reason I cook with Nitrogen' Tim, Italian 'I hate barbecues' Sara or 'I have no distinguishing chracteristics' Tom.

BBC's Masterchef is down to the final three and in tonight's episode the three are whisked off to Australia for a bit of reality TV confusion. New look Masterchef meets ITV's I'm A Celebrity nonsense and Gregg wears a funny hat.

That about sums up the excitement of the opening segment in which the contestants are asked to whip up exciting plates of food with ingredients with which they are not familiar. It wouldn't be a visit to Oz without a bit of croc and roo thrown on a barbie.

The Hotel: back of house chaos at The Wedding

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"Life in a British hotel like you've never seen it before." Well, let's hope so.

Episode two of Channel 4's The Hotel is The Wedding. Childhood sweethearts Tom and his pregnant fiancee Susanna are getting hitched. 

As general manager Wayne Bartholomew points out, weddings are fantastic opportunities to show the hotel off at its best.

"One of the key areas in which we try to do that is with the food," he explains. 

So it begs the question: why doesn't head chef Kirk have any idea what the menu is just 24 hours before the big day? How on earth he knows what stock to order is one thing, but what's truly staggering is the fact that he simply moans about not being kept in the loop. 

Good god, man. Ask!

battle-of-the-north-west.jpgFormer champion Lisa Allen has seen off worthy challenger Johnnie Mountain in the Friday final cook off for the north west heat of Great British Menu.

Lisa, who scored a record 34 out of 40 points for her dishes by judge Marcus Wareing, was confident in her well rehearsed dishes.

However that didn't stop her being a little unnerved when Johnnie's dishes were stepped up a gear following feedback from Marcus (scroll down to see what each chef prepared).

In spite of Johnnie's improvements, judges Oliver Peyton, Prue Leith and Matthew Fort voting unanimously for Lisa's menu and her victory was well-earned.

GBM-logo.jpgLisa Allen and Johnnie Mountain have made it through to the Friday final of the regional heat for the north west, seeing off competition from Jason "Bruno" Birkbeck.

Lisa, head chef at Nigel Haworth's Northcote in Lancashire, was a winner of Great British Menu 2010 with her starter of wild rabbit and leek turnover with piccalilli and she has looked no less determined to make it a double.

Her 2011 menu, which received two scores of nine out of 10 for her fish course and dessert, saw her knock out her former boss Bruno Birkbeck, whom she worked under at Northcote.

Great British Menu: Chris Bell leaves Paul Heathcote's Longridge

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Chris-Bell.jpgGreat British Menu star Chris Bell has announced that he is quitting Paul Heathcote's Longridge restaurant in Lancashire to return to his home town of Ballymena.

Chris, who lost out in the Northern Ireland Friday final to Chris Fearon of Deanes at Queens, will take over the the running of the River Room restaurant at the Galgorm Resort and Spa.

He told Caterersearch.com: "I was not seeking a move home or even looking for a new job, but when this opportunity arose I found it too difficult to turn down. 

"The fact that it's in my home town just made it even more appealing.

Masterchef: vegetarian Jackie out, down to final three

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Masterchef-logo.jpgJust a quick one. Tonight vegetarian Jackie was sent packing from Masterchef and boy was that a popular decision on Twitter (see below for a few of the celebratory tweets Satellite Dishes came across).

So that leaves Tim, Tom and Sara - the culinary competition equivalent of Rod, Jane and Freddy (except not really).

Sara has stuck fast to her Italian roots and to great effect. 

Her dessert at the Royal Society went down brilliantly with the scientists, presumably because they love an ingredient that can be summed up by its name on the periodic table.

The Hotel Inspector: Alex Polizzi visits the First In Last Out B&B

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The seventh series of the Hotel Inspector kicks off with the uncompromising Alex Polizzi visiting the First In Last Out (FiLO) bed and breakfast in Winchester.

The 17th-century pub with rooms has been subject to some horrendous online reviews by disgruntled guests, and who could blame them? 

One came across a used condom in her bed! And she wasn't even the one that posted a damning assessment of the B&B that began with the heading "could this be the worst hotel in the UK?" 

On the brink of bankruptcy, owner Jon Sweeney had resorted to slashing room rates in a bid to drive business, resulting in a market made up primarily of contractors.

Enter Alex. The granddaughter of Lord Forte and niece of Sir Rocco Forte, she trained at the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, before further earning her stripes in the family business. So it's fair to say she knows what she's talking about.

Great British Menu: two weeks in*

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The Great British Menu has returned to the BBC and already we've seen the regional heats for the North East and Northern Ireland. 

This year the chefs from across the UK have been tasked with conceiving a four-course menu of sharing platters inspired by last year's The Big Lunch, a nationwide one-day event in which up to one million people were enouraged to cook and eat with their neighbours.

Only two chefs make it through to cook for the Great British Menu judges at the end of the week, with the third going home on Thursday.


Nigel Haworth, chef-proprietor of the Michelin-starred Northcote, Lancashire, was the former winner turned judge for the North East. The heat saw stiff competition between Andrew Pern of the Star Inn, Harome, consultant chef Stephanie Moon, and Tim Bilton of the Butcher's Arms in Hepworth.

Wayne-Bartholomew.jpgThe latest reality hospitality show to hit our TV screens launched on Channel 4 this week in the form of The Hotel

By the makers of hit series One Born Every Minute, The Hotel aims to reveals the behind-the-scenes workings of a typical British hotel, in this case the Damson Dene in the Lake District.

More than 50 cameras were installed in every corner of the 40-bedroom hotel, including several guest bedrooms, over the course of six weeks last summer.

Hotel owner Jonathan Denby said that he would be "outraged" if anyone compared his hotel to Fawlty Towers.

But comparisons of that nature were made on Twitter within minutes of the intro - probably when the hapless hired hand Romanian-born Amos first wandered into shot (pictured below). 

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