Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Rant: Great British Menu 2009 Final - Fish
It's the second round of the Great British Menu 2009 Finals and this time the eight contestants have to tackle the Fish Course.
Five out of the eight chefs have chosen to use crab - a risky move, especially considering that one of them (Shaun Rankin) is allergic to the stuff.
No matter - the first chef to cook is Kenny Atkinson again and he's gone for the bold statement of Craster Fish Pie. Yep, that's right, Fish Pie - loathed by children everywhere but loved as simple, comfort food by grown-ups.
And three of those grown-ups ie Oliver Peyton, Matthew Fort and Prue Leith adore Kenny's fish pie, with its creamy sauce on spinach and crunchy piped potato. It's a strong start to the round.
Tristan Welch is next with his take on being beside the seaside - Devilled Potted Brown Shrimp and Devilled Crab Claws, served prettily in a crab shell on a shingle beach.
Oliver's reaction? "Call the Environmental Agency - there's a slurry on this beach ... this glaze is like a terrible Chinese nightmare meal." Prue says it's "lost its lustre" and Tristan scores poorly.
Nigel Haworth serves up Muncaster Crab, Tossed Salad, Egg and English Mustard Mayonnaise. The beer battered crab claw is crisp and tasty - Matthew says "It's an absolute celebration - everything is designed to bring out the freshness of the crab".
Oliver says "It's a beautiful journey on a plate - it's captured the moment." Boy done good. Even if there was shell in the chefs' tasting plate.
Can Shaun Rankin do any better after coming last in yesterday's Starters round? He's offering Lobster & Crab Cocktail with Fennel Salad, Sunflower Bread and Herb Mayonnaise with some cheeky little tempura crab claws as garnish.
Oliver's verdict? "I don't hate it." Prue likes the "prawn cocktail with knobs on" but Oliver absolutely loathes the glass it comes in. Matthew says it's greatly improved but lacks pizzazz.
Yesterday's winner James Sommerin has come up with Smoked Eel and Pigs' Trotters with Cauliflower, Maple & Sherry Vinegar. He's teased by the others for creating such a hefty, wintry dish (beignets and all) and even forgets to serve the crackling - which the judges are grateful for as they don't like it, and they sigh when he brings it in late.
Oliver says "The crackling is a mere distraction for the bigger problem - it lacks clarity and it's greasy - we're trying to make people happy". Matthew admits it lacks "eel appeal".
Danny Millar is serving Poached Sea Trout with Crab and Potato Salad, Pickles and Salad Cream. He says his inspiration is "tinned salmon" (huh?).
Oliver wonders if Danny's trout is too delicate but Prue says it's fit for returning soldiers. They all agree that it's a lovely dish.
Tom Kitchin has gone back to the British Raj by serving Kedgeree (shortest dish name ever). He's added peas and a parsley puree "to keep them bleep seasonally happy" and the judges gasp at the transformation - it's now "summery as anything".
Oliver Peyton says it's an Indian Summer, Prue says it's sensational, Matthew says it's "a circus of kedgeree". Weirdly, Oliver also says it's a bit small - he usually complains that the portions are too hefty.
Last but not least is my favourite, Glynn Purnell. To Glynn, a taste of home means curry (Birmingham did invent the table naan and the balti), so he presents Masala Spiced Monkfish and Red Lentils with Pickled Carrots and Coconut.
He's also decided to use a black plate this time (as suggested by his "Indian friend, Satwar Bains") and the visual contrast makes Matthew exclaim "The dish pops with drama!".
When they taste it, they get even more excited. Oliver actually starts raving as follows:
"People from all over the world will come to this country to eat food like this.
It's part of the birth of the gastronomic giant that will be Britain.
It's the food of the gods.
I have no words to describe how amazing this is."
Prue and Matthew can't help but agree.
So maybe it's a foregone conclusion as to who comes first, but the judges ranked them as follows:
8th place: James Sommerin
7th place: Tristan Welch
6th place: Shaun Rankin
5th place: Tom Kitchin
4th place: Danny Millar
3rd place: Kenny Atkinson
2nd place: Nigel Haworth
1st place: Glynn Purnell!
Prue was keen to point out that, although James went "from hero to zero", there was barely anything in it between Tom and Danny, and the top three were also pretty much neck and neck.
Who are they kidding though - since when has Oliver Peyton ever been that animated about anything?
Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting installment!
All screencaps copyright BBC/Optomen, but created and edited by me - if you want to use them, please ask first and credit me - thanks :)