It’s fair to say that this series of the Great British Menu has featured highs, lows and a lot of fish dishes inspired by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet.
The run began back in February, as leading chefs from across the UK were asked to create dishes to be served at a banquet celebrating 100 years of British broadcasting.
That was a fairly wide brief, so perhaps one of the big surprises of this series is how many of the chefs had similar ideas.
As well as the aforementioned Blue Planet, Coast proved to be a popular theme, along with Dad’s Army, Fawlty Towers and the moon landings.
During the Welsh heats, three chefs made dishes based on Doctor Who’s fondness for fish fingers and custard, although it seemed the judges would have preferred it if they’d tried something else.
There’s also been a very wide range of scores – while perfect 10s have been dished up, on occasion, they have dipped below five, and some viewers may feel like there have been more chefs struggling to get their food out on time than usual.
However, one element of the Great British Menu that seems to have gone down a treat is the new judging panel of Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, restaurateur Nisha Katona and food podcast host and comedian Ed Gamble. They’ve been joined by some impressive guests over the past few weeks and now the finals are upon us, the line-up is getting ever starrier.
The standard of cooking should also be especially high, as the winners of the regional heats go head to head, armed with the feedback to make their dishes even stronger.
They begin, naturally, with the starters – and some of the chefs have re-invented their courses completely, so we could be in for some surprises. But who will impress writer, actor and comedian Steve Pemberton and the rest of the judges and get to serve their dish again at the banquet?
On Tuesday, children’s TV legend Floella Benjamin joins the panel to help choose the fish course, which is going to be particularly difficult as the chefs have got over their first-day nerves and are ready to serve up some world-class cooking.
Actress Alison Steadman joins the fray for the main course on Wednesday, where the dishes include homages to two pioneering radio broadcasts.
Then on Thursday, journalist and News at 10 presenter Huw Edwards scores the desserts. In the heats, a chocolate cigar commemorating Winston Churchill’s speeches looked like the one to beat, but could it be pipped by tributes to the Darling Buds of May, Blue Peter or Morecambe and Wise?
Once the winner has been decided, one chef will also be asked to cook the banquet’s mini-dishes, the canape and pre-dessert. Will it be a job for someone who is already making a course, or give someone else a chance to serve up their food at Alexandra Palace?
That’s the venue for Friday’s banquet, as distinguished guests including Clive Myrie, Mary Berry and former GBM regular Prue Leith gather together to dig into the winning courses, and choose a champion of champions.
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