Great British Menu 2021: The Chefs

zaib055April 12, 2022


Great British Menu has been a yearly treat on our screens for over a decade now, and for its sixteenth series 2021 looks set to bring us all the leftfield plating, mind-boggling culinary wizardry and delicious looking dishes that we’ve come to love from the show.

This year’s roster of chefs spans the whole spectrum, from chefs that have already reached the heights of Michelin stardom to up-and-coming stars of the future. Find out when the show starts, what this year’s theme is and a little bit more about every chef competing in Great British Menu 2021 below.



When does Great British Menu start?




The 2021 series of Great British Menu starts on Wednesday 24 March on BBC Two at 8pm. There will be three episodes a week for eight weeks, covering each regional heat before the finals week culminating in the Banquet.



What’s the theme?




This year’s theme is all about British innovation, as 2021 marks thirty years since Sir Timothy Berners-Lee first made the internet widely available, as well as Helen Sharman becoming the first British astronaut to go into space. We’re expecting a hefty dose of technical cooking to match the brief, and no doubt we’ll see plenty of sous vide, perhaps the odd pinch of molecular gastronomy and some seriously impressive plating that pays homage to all manner of British inventors, innovators and public figures.



What’s changed from last year’s series?




The format stays the same, but previous judge Andi Oliver is taking on the presenting role from Susan Calman, who got in amongst the chefs during the 2020 series. That means we need to welcome a new judge, which comes in the form of Rachel Khoo, who rose to fame with her own cookery series The Little Paris Kitchen.



The chefs competing by region in Great British Menu 2021






Central





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Sabrina Gidda, The AllBright, London





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Sabrina is back for a third crack at the competition. After being runner-up for the Central region three years ago, this time she is determined to go all the way. Whilst studying for a degree in Fashion PR, Wolverhampton-born Sabrina worked part-time in a café. After the chef there injured himself, she volunteered to finish the service and has never looked back. Despite having no formal training Sabrina has worked in the Dorchester and was twice a Roux Scholarship finalist in 2014 and 2015. She’s now executive chef at all-women’s member’s club The AllBright, which has outposts in London’s Mayfair, Fitzrovia and in West Hollywood Los Angeles.

Combining the eclectic flavours of her Punjabi heritage, British upbringing and her love of classical French and Italian influences, Sabrina’s menu celebrates her region’s most well-known scientists and inventions dear to her heart.


Shannon Johnson, Hicce, London





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Lincolnshire-born Shannon is a newcomer to the competition who has trained under some of the best female chefs in the UK. The 27-year old worked for three years at Murano under Great British Menu veteran Angela Hartnett, training up in modern Italian cuisine. She then became head chef at Hicce in Coal Drops Yard, London, for Pip Lacey, who was starter course Banquet winner four years ago. Shannon oversees a modern British menu with a focus on woodfired cooking and has helped maintain Hicce’s Michelin plate rating.

Shannon’s culinary style is influenced by her travels as well as the restaurants where she’s worked. For the competition she’s drawing on her modern British style to celebrate significant women in science including Rosalind Franklin and her significant contribution to the molecular structure of DNA.


Stuart Collins, Docket no 33, Shropshire





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Staffordshire-born Stuart is new to the Great British Menu kitchen and, as chef patron of his own establishment, he’s fighting fit for the competition. 37-year old Stuart has worked under some of the biggest names in the industry. After a working-stage under Gary Rhodes at City Rhodes, he worked with Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park for over four years and then went onto Gordon Ramsay at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay for a year before being part of the brigade that helped set up Gordon’s New York restaurants, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Maze, where he became Gordon’s head chef.

He returned to the UK as Michael Caines’ executive chef for the Abode Hotel in Cheshire and then moved to Doha, Qatar to work on various restaurant concepts before returning back to the UK in 2017 to open his own restaurant – Docket No 33 in the market town of Whitchurch, Shropshire.

Stuart’s style of food is modern British using the best regional produce. His menu for the competition celebrates a broad range of scientific innovators from Stephen Hawking to Edgar Hooley, the man who invented tarmac.


Liam Dillon, The Boat Inn, Lichfield





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Lichfield lad Liam is very proud of his origins and very competitive. His love of food goes back to spending evenings with his nana, making stews and baking while his parents both worked all hours to grow their own business. Liam has worked in some of the UK’s top kitchens such as Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, Five Fields in Chelsea and Story by Tom Sellers in Bermondsey, London. He also travelled the world with stints at Quay in Sydney, Noma in Copenhagen, and at Eleven Madison Park and Gilt in New York.

In 2017, Liam returned to his hometown of Lichfield as chef owner of The Boat Inn. Since then he and his family have worked endlessly to convert the tired roadside pub into an award-winning modern British restaurant. It’s now the only restaurant in Staffordshire to hold 3 AA rosettes. Liam’s menu for the competition is creative, innovative and pays homage to local pioneers such as Lichfield-born Samuel Johnson who wrote the early Dictionary of The English Language.



London and South East





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Kim Ratcharoen, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London





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Originally from Thailand, Kim is a competitive newcomer with her sights firmly set on the Banquet. She grew up in Thailand where she learnt to cook with her grandmother, then moved to the UK in 2006 to live with her mother, before graduating with an Economics and Business studies degree from Sussex University. It was here that she fell in love with cooking.

After studying, Kim decided to enter the hospitality industry. She worked with Michael Bremner at 64 Degrees and then went onto Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London. She has worked at this iconic three-Michelin-starred restaurant for five years and climbed the ranks under chef patron Matt Abéto become senior sous chef.

Kim’s unique cooking style combines her Thai heritage with French classical training in a menu of exciting dishes honouring scientific visionaries from London and the South East.


Oli Marlow, Roganic and Aulis, London and Hong Kong




Hampshire-born Oli is on a mission to follow in his boss’s footsteps, veteran Simon Rogan, and go all the way. 30-year-old Olidid his apprentice at Chewton Glen in Hampshire and then went on to work in world renowned restaurants such as The Fat Duck, Eleven Madison Park and Maaemo in Oslo.

For over four years Oli has been working for Banquet winner and veteran Simon Rogan and is the exec chef for Aulis London, an eight-seater chef’s table dining experience, and Roganic London which closed in December 2020 due to the pandemic (but is scheduled to reopen later this year). He is also the exec chef for Roganic Hong Kong which won its first Michelin star in January 2021, along with Aulis Hong Kong.

Oli’s cooking style is very seasonal, deceptively simple and based on classical English flavours. His menu for the competition is inspired by modern technology from underground farms to the invention of the internet underpinned by unique flavour combinations and classical techniques.


Tony Parkin, Tony Parkin at The Tudor Room, Surrey





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Tony comes from Reading and is ready to face the challenge of the competition.

Tony always knew he wanted to be a chef as he grew up with his parents in the industry. Since the age of nineteen Tony has worked in some of the best kitchens in the world including Copenhagen’s Noma under Rene Redzepi, Kommendaten, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Northcote Manor in Lancashire.

In 2019 Tony became head chef at The Tudor Room in Surrey. Tony had the opportunity to run this restaurant and firmly put his own stamp on it, turning it into Tony Parkin at the Tudor Room – within five months of reopening he was awarded one Michelin star.

Tony is classically trained and has a French style of cooking which includes modern techniques and Thai influences. For the competition, Tony is bringing his depth of flavour to dishes inspired by pioneers such as Florence Nightingale and Jane Goodall.


Ben Murphy, Launceston Place, London





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30-year-old Ben hails from North West London and is confident his unique modern British cooking style will give him the edge.

Ben has worked in many prestigious kitchens over his career such as Épicure at Le Bristol in Paris, Les Prés d’Eugénie, Michel Guérard, Per Se, Eleven Madison Park and also four years working for legendary chef Pierre Koffmann at his eponymous restaurant at The Berkeley.

He has been head chef at Launceston Place in Kensington, London, since 2017 where his cooking style is playful, modern and packed with flavour. For Great British Menu, he is determined to recreate ambitious scientific advancements from the South East in surprising ways.



Scotland





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Roberta Hall-McCarron, The Little Chartroom, Edinburgh




Edinburgh-born Roberta is returning with steely determination after making it to the GBM finals last year. She started out in kitchens aged sixteen doing work experience and hasn’t looked back since, working for one of Scotland’s best chefs, Michelin-starred Tom Kitchin at The Kitchin before moving on to Castle Terrace with Dominic Jack.

Roberta is chef owner of The Little Chartroom in Edinburgh which she runs with her husband, who manages front of house. Her style of cooking is traditionally Scottish, influenced by French techniques, and her menu for the competition is inspired by Scotland’s rich larder and some of her favourite pioneers including the Edinburgh seven – the first women to be matriculated at any British university – and James Clerk Maxwell’s first demonstration of colour photography.


Amy Elles, The Harbour Café, Fife





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Returner Amy is throwing her hat into the ring again after being runner-up for Scotland last year. London-born, she has made her home on Scotland’s east coast with her family and runs her restaurant The Harbour Café in Fife.

Amy started her career at Harrods where she fell in love with the kitchen. She has also worked at The Fat Duck where she honed her skills in the pastry section, and at Moro. Along with her husband Jack, she is chef owner of The Harbour Café in Fife and Stocks Events private event catering. Amy prides herself on only using local Scottish ingredients and having a light, elegant touch without over garnishing.

Amy’s creative menu is inspired by Scotland’s finest produce and pioneers including Henry Faulds and his development of forensic fingerprinting.


Stuart Ralston, Aizle. Edinburgh





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Stuart grew up in Glenrothes Fife and, coming from a family of chefs, was always destined to enter the industry. Stuart has worked in some very prestigious places including Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in New York, and for VIP clientele at the exclusive Sandy Lane luxury resort in Barbados.

Seven years ago Stuart opened modern Scottish restaurant Aizle, meaning a burning coal or spark in Scots. In 2019 it was rated the fifth best fine dining restaurant in the UK and first in Scotland that year from Tripadvisor. In 2019 Stuart set up sister restaurant Not To Edinburgh which has just been awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide for its small plates with global influences.

Stuart is bringing his modern Scottish cuisine to the competition and celebrating scientists such as Sir Alexander Fleming and Mary Somerville, the first woman to be a member of the Royal Astronomical Society.


Scott Smith, Fhior, Edinburgh








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