Great British Menu is hotting up for the finals

Friday: Great British Menu: The Finals; (BBC2, 8pm)

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 5:00 pm
Matthew Fort, Andi Oliver, Rachel Khoo and Oliver Peyton

For the chefs taking part in Great British Menu, the banquet is the culmination of the series.

The whole point of the competition is for them to get one or more of their dishes (starter, fish course, main and dessert) to the lavish feast, which this year is celebrating British innovation.

To get there, they first have to take part in a heat, which sees them going up against three other chefs from their region or country to impress a veteran with a proven track record in the competition. The two highest scorers then go head to head to impress the panel of food writer Matthew Fort, restaurateur Oliver Peyton and broadcaster and food creative Rachel Khoo, as well as a guest judge.

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Those who made it through that stage then took part in the finals, which began on Monday, and now we know which dishes made the grade.

However, while making it this far may be an honour for the chefs, regular viewers might feel that in the past, the banquet episodes could be a little underwhelming, as the results were already in.

Fortunately, the show’s makers decided to add a little extra tension, as for the past few series, the guests at the banquet have been invited to vote for their favourite course, giving one of the chefs the chance to become Champion of Champions.

And this year, there’s even more drama. For a start, it was filmed during a pandemic, meaning that for the first time they will be serving at an outdoor banquet, complete with social distancing.

Here, presenter Andi Oliver introduces them to their banquet location, Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, a world heritage site and the home of the Lovell Telescope, which has been monitoring space billions of lightyears away for decades.

To add to the tension, a disaster strikes – and not of this show’s usual ‘oh no, if there isn’t enough acidity in the dish or they can’t figure out how to work the ice-cream maker, they could be going home’ variety. Instead, one of the chefs is unable to compete, meaning their fellow winners must make their dish for them. (That would not go down well with veteran judge Daniel Clifford, who took a surprisingly dim view of the contestants helping each other plate up their dishes earlier in the series.)

Can their colleagues pull it off? And will it impact the voting for Champion of Champions? We’re about to find out as guests including Professor Sarah Gilbert from Oxford’s successful Covid vaccination programme and leading scientists and inventors from around the UK tuck in.

Other notable guests include comedian and trained engineer Phil Wang, podcast stars and comedians James Acaster and Ed Gamble, science communicator Professor Maggie Aderin-Pocock from The Sky at Night, mathematician Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and You Tube phenomenon and madcap inventor Colin Furze, who definitely makes the most striking entrance, as he arrives on a two-metre high, socially distanced bike.

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