Great British Menu 2012: Marcus Wareing vs Johnnie Mountain

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Last night was one of the most anticipated episodes of Great British Menu and I imagine viewers expecting drama weren't disappointed. 

That's right - it was the North West's turn to do the fish course and once again we got to see the kitchen sparring of regional judge Marcus Wareing and returning contestant Johnnie Mountain.

Fans of the show will know that these two have a history. Their GBM relationship has never exactly sailed on an even keel, but nor has it ever been quite so tense. You've seen the episode, I'm sure, but in summary...

Mountain has in the past never scored more than a four for his fish course. Keen to improve on that, he went down the molecular gastronomy route and presented a very conceptual dish that aimed to recreate the sea. 

Wareing was unimpressed with said dish and scored it two out of 10.

Mountain, evidently disappointed with the two, pulled off his mic, swore a lot and walked out. There followed the sound of things being thrown about off camera while his fellow contestants Simon Rogan and Aiden Byrne looked on aghast. 

There was a LOT of discussion about this on Twitter last night - in fact a cursory search reveals that at this point it has yet to fully abate - and the public response has been very divided (see Storify below). Accusations of bullying have been thrown at Wareing from viewers, while others commend his assessment of the dish and disapprove of Mountain's extreme reaction. 

In true reality TV judging style, I shall begin my own critique with for me... Wareing's score was unneccessarily harsh.  

What score do I think the dish deserved? Without tasting it, I couldn't say. But a two suggests to me there was a complete lack of effort, and I don't think that's something Mountain can be accused of. 

If a low score was warranted, it could have been given without a) essentially knocking Mountain out of the running for the Friday final - yes, he could have produced two blinders while Rogan and Byrne both messed up royally on one of their final two dishes, but that's a lot of variables that need to fall into line, and b) potentially damaging a man's professional career.

Because while it made compelling television, everyone involved still has a day job; a business to run. Any media exposure runs the risk of making or breaking you I suppose, but - and perhaps I'm being a little sentimental and sappy here - I'd like to think that in the interests of solidarity, the chefs will ultimately have each other's backs. 

Ultimately though, the episode ended on a cliffhanger... will Mountain be back for the main course? Not wanting to ruin it, you'll just have to tune in tonight to find out!

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Excellent write up and I pretty much agree. To award a dish 2/10 because it was poorly cooked or tasted awful would be justified. Obviously I can't comment on the taste but it looked to me like it had been well put together.

However, giving such a low mark because he didn't 'get it' was, in my opinion, overly harsh. What was there to get? Johnnie explained very clearly the concept behind the dish.

So what if it didn't have actual fish in (which it did anyway). I seem to remember twice GBM winner Glynn Purnell serving a fish course which didn't contain fish...

i tottally agree with marcus comments the dish looked rubbish no actual fish and if you cant stand the heat get out of the kitchen, these are some of the best chefs in the country. Chefs are known for giving there own appionon and are entitled to it. I have worked for many chefs that do that and you have to learn to develop a thick skin take it on the chin and move on and proove yourself i belive comments like that only make you better as you push your self more grow up johnny mountain

The issue isn't really whether it was a bad dish - the issue is that a score of two (which to my knowledge is completely unprecendented, and believe me I have seen some right gunk served up in past series) effectively puts the contestant out of the competition on the basis of a single dish. The whole idea of the program is that the best overall menu wins through (and if there are any dodgy dishes, the chefs are given the option of making a change). Justified or not, giving a score of two is idiotic judging because it then skews the contestant so far out of the running he has no chance to get back even if he serves up ambrosia for his remaining courses. Saying all that, lets face facts - most of the Olympians would probably far prefer a bacon and egg sarnie to all this pretentious tripe that the chefs feel thay have to devise to meet the 'brief'

show me the rules where it states that the fish course has to be taken literally. I say 10 out of 10 for thought process. By the strong reaction this dish has received, I say JM has pushed all the boundaries which is exactly what the brief has asked for!

If you ask me people who didn't get it lack imagination and need to open their minds.

What an Idiot Wearing is patronising, lecturing Moron, The lad put a hell of a lot of effort in to create that dish. Can't stand the bloke lecturing chefs who are already well qualified.

Wareing is an arrogant bully. It was obvious that he dislikes Mountain from the very beginning and he used his popsition to belittle him. If the dish was not up to standard a low score was justified but 2? That is insulting.
Wareing should never be invited to judge again.

I think Marcus was petulant and unreasonable, anchovies are fish snd i thought thr dish looked amazing. Wareing totally ruined the competition this week, so looking forward to jonnies other dishes, wareing is reknowned for his outspoken behaviour, so critisising jonnie not a ggod move - stones and glass houses come to mind. badly done wareing, badly done!

thought last nights juging realy harsh MW score of 2/10 seemed personal not professional was he deliberatly trying to destroy johnys reputation

I feel that the antics on yesterday's show have done nothing for the reputation of the show. Marcus's critism of Johnny's dish was unprofessional. It was obviously personal. If he did not like the dish and he clearly didn't before he even tasted it, he could have given a low score but giving him 2 was terrible. Johnny is a professional chef for goodness sake. The situation reminded me of the incident years ago when Fanny Craddock showed up a amateur cook on a BBC programme ~ such was the outcry she never appeared on a cookery programme again! I think the BBC should consider the same fate for Marcus.

Surely Mountain is playing a game, by walking out and then appearing again to "support" the other contestants is just game playing to gain popularity, if he was on top of his cooking game, then he would not need to resort to these tactics.He went to the Fat duck, was showed the iconic sounds of the sea, and made a very poor reproduction of something and using techniques he knows little about.Hopefully that is the last we will see of this egosistical chef with dubious talents

Shame on you Marcus Wareing very unprofessional - are you trying to destroy a mans reputation you are a complete idiot and some day it will come back and haunt you.
The man worked hard to achieve something different but may be on the night it did not work,this does not give you the right to knock him out of the competition by giving him such a low mark making it impossible to come back from.
I think walking out was the only thing he could do - you completely demoralised him in front of television.
I THOUGHT IT WAS ALL ABOUT PUSHING NEW COOKING BOUNDERIES - THIS IS WHAT ALL YOU JUDGES KEEP SAYING - Marcus Wareing should apologise to Johnnie Mountainon on Television.

David Duff says:
As posted last evening after the screening. May 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm We have just watched the Great British Menu,fish course for the north west chefs, Marcus Wareing was a disgrace. The score for Jonnie Mountain was his opinion, the way he totally embarrassed him was uneccessary and highhanded, he destroyed the man. I don’t blame him for leaving, for Wareing to then compound his pompous behaviour by accusing the chef of lack of backbone by referencing ‘olympian behaviour” was unbelievable. He showed no sign of the same of the olypian ethic in the way he behaved on national television. .

I presume pastrychefbourn is not going to take on other cooking tasks given he/she doesn't know that anchovies are fish. Idiot!

After blogging my thoughts last evening, one last thought. If Marcus Wareing's task was to mark the dish according to plate of food presented at the pass, how could he score a dish 7 because it had 'potential'? Given that he said that the plate of food presented has flaws in each element, this is just not consistent and suggests some agenda. Enough said!

Could not agree more, a score of 2 was an insult by a man who clearly has issues that overcame him being professional or fair. before watching this i was a wareing fan, but no longer... This dish went to the fat duck and and got the thumbs up, yet it did not even have fish for wareing? Shockingly unprofessional behavior...
Also; Is it me or is Simon too quick to jump on the slagging wagon??

I can only surmise that MW didn't understand the brief this year.... at least JM tried to be ground breaking - Scoring it a 2 was an insult and effectively knocked Johnny out of the running for the rest of the competition. A judge is supposed to be unbiased MW let himself down and the show and should not return as a judge IMO. The format of the show has changed considerably since its beginnings with chef's being required to break from their normal style of cooking (particularly this year).. I wonder how MW would have faired who, let's not forget, won through on the back of a bl**dy lemon tart!! You were right to walk out Johnny and showed a lot of character for returning to support your fellow chef's. I think MW has lost all credibility.

It's quite unfortunate Marcus Wareing saw it fit to mark johnny down so harshly. The brief is all about pushing boundaries, and while some may argue that he went too far, he still *did* push the boundaries, and for that alone warranted at least a 5 or 6. The purpose of the Chef/Judges in the heats is as a *MENTOR* and as such, he should have advised and worked with Johnny on the dish. M.W seemed ready to hate the dish from the get-go and in the past never seems to have been convinced of Johnny Mountain's skills or talents. A mark of 2 should be reserved for something that was unfit to be presented, and in the past, dishes much worse than this were not marked as harshly.

I have the utmost respect for both chefs, and really hope it won't tarnish either one.

More Mentoring, less Judging.

I think Johnnies dish received a two for the simple reason that you can't expect, in a competition that expects innovation, to go and rip off a truly ground breaking dish from an innovative restaurant and get the acclaim. Marcus Waring clearly knew that that was a very poor imitation of a very famous dish. I half expected Johnnie Mountain to try and put headphones on for that. It was a poor interpretation of a dish that has already been done better. Marcus knew that, and that's why he scored it so low.

I think the last poster has hit the nail on the head. The problem with this year is the stupid brief which makes no sense as it seems to focus on techniques rather than a good nosh. Therefore the producers/ judges have to take some of the blame as it seems to be forcing the chefs into this molecular gastronomy nonsense. I agree that your average athlete would rather have a good plate of pasta or a hunk of protein. As for Marcus Waring he just comes over as an egotist and as was apparent last year there is something between him and JM. I think he stands charged of trying to detroy a fellow professionals reputation for some sort of personal reason which in my mind reflects badly on him. Go Johnnie, if I could afford it I would love to eat in your restaurant!

Ruined the rest of the week as there is no competition. Last night MW talked about marking down the remaining two, so what, they both get through to the judges regardless. Giving one person such power, when three people actually judge is now shown to be flawed. Maybe it is time for a different format.

I am sure that these chefs know of the concept of professional courtesy - unfortunatley Wareing did not display it on this occasion.

Last week we had the judge complaining that the chefs did not take the brief to the next level and here we had someone who did, not by using props but by using innovative and new techniques of cooking - as previously said we did not taste the item, but from what I saw it looked great and what a wow factor. Previously we have also seen a chef recreate this under the sea theme with a much higher score - shame on Marcus, perhaps it it time for him to move over and let someone else judge who perhaps is more up to date with the modern technqiues bring on Heston

Marcus Wareing has totally ruined this week,s competition as there is not one until Friday this week. He is totally up his own a....e! Johnny was totally right in what he did as he had no chance in competing with the low score of 2. If Marcus didn't like this dish a 5 would have been in order. Never liked any of the dishes he cooked when he was in the competition anyway. If he thinks being like this would increase his publicity it hasn't worked as I shall not be watching the rest of the week.

Watching this weeks comp it is clear Marcus hates Johnny. The brown nosing of the other two chefs by Wareing is laughable. I imagine the judges wont be so kind on Friday. Wareing didn't get the brief at all. I cant stand to see him making kissy faces at the other two chefs for the rest of the week, hope hes fired for next year!

Format needs changing. Fed up seeing all the banter between contestants. We want to see what they are cooking. Even if Marcus disliked Johnny's dish, he should have given more constructive comment and given a score that kept him in the competition. Very much felt for Johnny, and agreed with his action, which really makes a farce of the competition for the next two courses.

i have watched and loved all the Great British Menus. My opinion is simple. Johnnie put a lot of research soul and work into the dish. Marcus has for no reason tried to ruin his reputation and make him look foolish on TV and against his fellow chefs. They looked completely embarrssed by the score given and I can understand Johnnies reaction. I hope we never see Whareing on the show again.

How sad to see blatant favoritism Marcus Wareing should apologise to Johnnie Mountain on camera- Johnnie got the Olympic themed brief and definitely pushed the boundaries- he had no option but to walk out- MW body language said it all- he did not care about JM- perhaps JM is too much competition in London for the posturing MW I remember his lemon tart dish- nothing to write home about any idiot can make one- producers and directors of BGM have to take some blame- they should have 'poseidoned' MW-

A score of 2 for the effort put into his dish by Johnnie was pathetic - yes everyone has to accept criticism but there is a way of putting it so that you are not making a grown man feel like a small child that has put a lot of effort into creating a story and because the spelling is bad to give the child a low score. Don't ever give Marcus a job as an ambassador for Britain - or anywhere else for that matter.

The behaviour of the other two chefs was not much better (ie laughing at Johnnie's walk-out) and the fact that Johnnie returned to taste their cooking was a credit to him.

i kniow anchovies are fish you twat but its still what i class as a fish dish that what marcus was trying to get at look at what the other two did they pushed it the way it should have been done i am all for pushing boundries but do it the way you understand you just get bent, you dont know what i do i doother stuff then pastry and have worked for many michelin starred chef

I too think that Mr. Wareing's comments were unprofessional and delivered in a most offensive manner. For the record Mr. Wareing is responsible for one of the most expensive and most unmemorable meals I have ever eaten.

I thought Marcus Wareing was abusive for his own ends. In wishing to sound authoritative he exposed his own incredible arrogance. I have dined at Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, as well as at the Fat Duck, Dinner, Murano, Pollen Street Social, Maze, etc., and I must say that Wareing's place was by far the worst. Furthermore, the service was so slow we were in there from 7 until 10.30 at night! He had best look to his own standards before being so scathing in his criticism of others.

A lot of comments talking about the fact that the score of 2 effectively put Johnnie out. If so, isn't there a flaw in the scoring system? I'd be interested to know if people have a view on this. A simple 3,2,1 might be more effective and increase the competition. Or do people like the fact that marcus had that bullet in his gun. Did make for drama...

To be fair Johnnie Mountain has been the worst chef to ever appear on this programme. The recreation of the sea was basically a couple of anchovies a scrunched up ice cream cone and a condom slung on the side!! No wonder he got a score of 2! MW has got a personal vendetta against Johnny though.

I'm really glad there seems to be so much support for Johnnie, because in my opinion this score of Wareings was nothing much more than a spiteful bit of bullying. It was obvious from last season that the 2 didn't get on but I didn't think Wareing would be this petty. Johnny's concept and passion for the dish were really impressive. And I liked the fact that he flounced out and swore as well.

Yes, there is a flaw in the scoring system, and it has always been there ever since this 'mentoring' format was introduced a few series back. However, no mentor has ever been so stupid (or possibly malicious), as to expose this weakness before.

Johnny Mountain is my hero. I don't even care if his dish tasted shit.

Wareing seemed to forget this was a TV show. Humilating a professional chef that had clearly put his all into the dish was an insult and left JM no choice but to walk out and distance himself from what had become a farce.

Wareing reminded me of a rubbish referee who needlessly sends a player off just as the game is getting interesting. He made it all about himself and his own unjustified standards and forgot that the most important people at this stage are not diners, but the viewers.

Load of rubbish, they were asked to break boundaries and be inovative, inventive and creative, Johnny did all of that, in previous weeks the menus the master chefs have lauded have proven to be unpopular with merrers Paton Leith and Fort, this proves that the Master Chef does not speak unniversaly for everyone. I also think that Simon Rogan gave no posites to either Aidens or Johnnies dishes but only when they were in the room, noneof the remaining contestants ot Wareing comes out of this with any cudos, Wareing in particular came over as the great I am, time someone else took over.

It wasn’t just the score that appalled me, it was the very deliberate way in which it was delivered, and the “it was done that way for TV” argument just doesn’t wash. During a previous week I remember one of the judges taking a chef aside and saying something like “are you sure you’ve understood the brief”, but instead of acting as a mentor Marcus Wareing decided to try and destroy Johnnie Mountain, and even after he had walked out continued to put the boot in. Pathetic.

I'd've loved to have seen Matthew, Pru and the smug one review Johnny's dish.

Marcus has shown his true colours. So go down in my estimation!!

GBW is best on Fri because the 3 judges are entertaining and the dynamic between them works well. I hardly bother now with the Mon to Thurs shows because I don't think the format works. The mentors may or may not be good cooks but they are lousy tv personalities. They all just witter on with the same cliched banalities week after week. Its better listening to the contestants talking about food and watching them cook. Marcus Waring came off particularly badly this week. The thing with TV is that it tends to magnify the less pleasant aspects of your personality and Tue gave us a real eyeful of his.

Sorry. Late to the debate. Caught up with the week's events in one go this evening.
While I might agree that there is, or appears to be, a personal element to the judging of Mountain by Wareing, I'm not sure that it's entirely one way.
From my viewing, it does appear that JM is ever so defensive in his dealings with MW. I might not go so far as to describe it as a "victim mentality", but it's not a million miles away.
And, given that Aiden Byrne & Simon Rogan both slaughtered JM's dish (specifically the overly smoked jelly), it wasn't exactly unexpected that it received such a low score
While JM (& his supporters) might feel that 2/10 was "insulting", it might be worth reminding that a concept is all well and good, but if the execution isn't its equal, the concept should be worthless.
Finally, for those accusing MW of bullying, perhaps they might look at his comments on the dissolution of his relationship with Gordon Ramsay. He doesn't seem to be, to me at least, a fan of that kind of behaviour.

I have watched the show with great interest all the way through so far, and I have never been so appalled. Marcus were do you get off giving such a ridicules score like that. This just shows your inadequate ability to judge and mentor yes I said MENTOR. The way you shot Johnnie down in flames like that made for painful viewing, you could see the anguish on Johnnie's face and he new then that the contest was over. As reported in a previous blog further up the page, you were supposed to have mentored a little seems you are supposed to be this wonderful chef. Johnnie I dont feel sypathetic towards you I feel you should embrace your initiative and your passion and well done. Mr M Wareing you should be ashamed to call yourself a proffesional.

I do appologise one more comment to make, it would have been very interesting to see if the great Marcus Waring would have said the same if Mr Ramsey would have made the exact same dish !!
Some how I think not.

I think Marcus thought the week was about him. Johnny was the interesting chef, and Marcus got rid of him quite deliberately. The show needs better judges.

The completely hateful Marcus Wareing had quite obviously made up his mind that he would humiliate Johnny, which he did with relish. I really hope we have seen the last of this pompous trumped up sous chef whose best effort for GBM was a Custard Tart with Garibaldi biscuits, I mean, get over it Marcus & lighten up.
Hope to see you next year Johnny.............

The contestants are there to be judged. Marcus Wareing judged accordingly. He did not humiliate Johnnie - Johnnie did that for himself!
My question is why was a loser like Johnnie Mountain allowed to enter the contest for a third year!! And to be allowed back following his outburst is just incredible.

Marcus Wareing is, without a doubt, one of the most arrogant, narcissistic chefs around. He truly is a little man with insecurity issues, or else he would not have insulted and humiliated Johnny in such a manner. OK, the jerk didn't like the dish, but a '2' ...... REALLY?? In the end Marcus showed his true colours ..... sadly he is a narcissistic bully. No one in this competition deserves to be shown such little respect and be subjected to bullying tactics. Next year I hope that Marcus is not allowed to judge.

^ Interesting comment "Melinda"... or should we say, Marcus!? ;-)

It was unprofessional of MW to say the things he did..... Johnnie followed the brief... MW not "getting it" shows his misunderstanding of the brief.
The score of 2 effectivly dismissed him from the competition, no way to come back from that eh???
Make up your own mind as I have done and believe that MW behaved in a completly inappropreiate way!

This year's GBM is a complex brief and clearly the judging chefs and the panel are not aligned on the criteria - demonstrated by how few of the top scoring chefs during the week are selected by the panel for the final.

That said, MW has issues with JM and obviously doesn't respect him. There was no guidance or mentoring, just sniping followed by a spitefully low score. It was insulting and disrespectful. JM was quite correct to leave - MW had selected his winners already. MW should be replaced to restore some balance and impartiality.

I also hope they change the format next year. Surely some type of league table would be better rather than just picking the best from a region. Both of this week's finalists were excellent but the current format means one has to go. How about the judging chef's score carries forward and are added to by the winning and runner up score from the panel (+10 for a winner and + 7 for the runner up)? Once all the regions have scored, pick the top 8 across all regions for the final - that way we see will truly see the best in the country.

BBC must be crowing that this episode of GBM HAS CAUSED SUCH A BARRAGE OF COMMENT- kept the programme in the news and will no doubt attract more viewers
BUT LETS NOT FORGET THE DAMAGE IT HAS DONE TO THE NORTH WEST REGION with only 2 chefs it was a slam dunk for them to get though
- widens even further NORTH SOUTH DIVIDE -the other most damaging MW comment was 'I found it very difficult to give you even this mark of 2'
hope JM gets public support at his restaurant and puts his GBM menu up for diners to assess.

MW has never has any great respect for JM. Seen it before on previous GBM and anticipated it this time. JM is a great chef shame he was forced to walk out but let's face it that score was not justified. MW spoilt the competition!!!

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