It's the battle of chefs from the north west - Bruno Birkbeck, Johnnie Mountain and Lisa Allen pull out all the stops with their fish dishes.
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The challenge continues on Great British Menu.
Three of the North West's best and most competitive chefs,
Lisa Allen, Bruno Birkbeck and Johnnie Mountain,
are battling for the honour of cooking at the ultimate street party.
The struggle for the starter left all three chefs level pegging
on eight points.
Last year's champion Lisa has her work cut out to gain the lead.
To get an eight on the first course is brilliant.
You've set that benchmark for yourself so you want better.
Newcomer Bruno is snapping at her heels.
It's going to be very hard. It's like basically your first day again.
Returning chef Johnnie is determined to win this time.
We won't talk about last year. This is a new day.
We're going to crack on.
Scoring them is double-Michelin-star holder
and Great British Menu veteran Marcus Wareing.
The heat's on. If they don't raise their game, it's curtains for one of them.
Today it's the fish course and the fight's between a barbecue of oak-smoked salmon,
fish soup with rouille croutons and salt-baked rainbow trout.
Going into the fish course all square, I'm excited.
Because if I pull this dish off, I really will forge ahead.
This year's competition is all about making mouth-watering food to share.
The hardest thing about the brief is that it's so wide open.
There's so many interpretations of sharing.
It's going to be an incredible experience of what people bring to the board.
Each chef has sought out local heroes from their community,
who cook their hearts out to foster links in their neighbourhoods.
-How's your food?
-Yeah, very good.
-I'll have a taste in a minute.
And the winning chefs will get the chance to invite
the inspiring individuals they've met to attend our celebratory feast.
I'd like to ask if you'd like to come to the Great British Menu banquet?
To get ahead in today's fish course, they must rise to the task
and impress discerning chef Marcus Wareing,
famous for taking no prisoners.
There's still everything to play for,
but I think this is the toughest course.
This is the time I want a real level of excellence.
They have set the bar really high.
First up, it's former champion, Lisa Allen.
She showed her experience in the starter,
comfortably earning eight points for her crispy pork pancakes.
And she'd love to nail the brief again today.
I hope this dish is going to give me a few marks more than the others.
You know, it's my favourite dish.
It's one of those that gives the surprise element
and would fit a banquet.
-How are you, Lisa?
-Good, thank you.
-What's your fish dish?
I'm doing salt-baked rainbow trout with cockles and a potato salad.
I'll lightly cook off the cockles and put into the bottom.
-Into the belly.
The surprise is they crack the salt off at table.
-They peel back the skin and serve themselves.
-There's a bit of a show?
-You have kept things plain and simple.
I have taken dishes that I think people would eat at home
and put my twist on them.
Lisa's whole rainbow trout dish is designed to get the guests
interacting, as they break through the salt crust at the table,
but is she taking a gamble?
Once it's cooking, Lisa won't be able to see,
because it's completely sealed.
She's never going to know whether it's cooked or not.
She's just going to go on the fact she's practised it enough.
That's a big, big risk for a banquet.
Up next, it's new recruit Bruno Birkbeck.
A few years back, Lisa worked under him.
Now they're equals, as he also bagged an eight yesterday
for his cheffy take on a classic ploughmans.
Will his fine dining approach put him in the lead today?
To get another high score, I just got to put me head down, concentrate, get every element right.
-What have we got?
-You've got my take on a barbecue today.
-Yeah. Some salmon, just going to smoke it.
Going to bar mark the salmon, put it in a barbecue.
I'm going to fill the barbecue with smoke and take it to the table.
-A hot barbecue?
-It's not hot. It's just the theatre of it.
Is there enough of a sharing platter here, the big wow factor?
You got your big barbecue, centre of the table.
You're going to lift up the barbecue, smoke will come out, you've got the smell.
It's a bit more of a wow factor, you know.
So Bruno's desperate to steal the show with his dramatic
but is it a step too far to serve his dish on a barbecue?
If he's going to do barbecued fish,
I'm hoping there's barbecuing within the recipe and I hope it's
not just gimmicky theatre, because that's not good enough.
Finally, it's maverick Johnnie Mountain.
Knocked out first last year,
Johnnie's eager to impress with a daring global menu.
Yesterday, his spectacular Indian feast of finger foods also
earned him an impressive eight.
I think the other two are a little more wary of me now, especially Lisa.
She'll be a bit more scared now.
That's a box of tricks, isn't it?
You don't come light, do you? What is the dish? What are you doing?
It's my take on a bouillabaisse, a classic fish soup,
but I've stepped it up a little bit.
How have you stepped it up?
The classic bouillabaisses are with cheaper fish.
I want to show off some of the great produce we've got.
You got your John Dory, turbot, monkfish.
-Live langoustines, live lobsters.
-For the crouton, for the rouille.
-Speaking French now?
-We're back in Europe now?
-Yeah, I'm back to Europe.
-Are you coming back to England?
-I might do.
Johnnie's going against the grain by taking the French classic
Will his unconventional approach cost him?
I'm not sure about top-quality fish for a classic bouillabaisse,
which is peasant fish, almost.
Why Johnnie is changing that, I've no idea.
In the kitchen, the cooking begins. With all three chefs neck and neck,
they're equally determined to outshine their rivals this time.
How do you feel about the scores?
I think it's definitely made people push a bit harder now.
-Obviously, all of us are level pegging.
-Cat amongst the pigeons.
-How do you feel, Johnnie. Pretty good?
-I feel numb. I feel numb.
To get an eight off Marcus Wareing is superb.
I'm quite busy now, so if you don't mind not talking to me for a while...
Lisa begins by de-boning her trout ready to be baked in salt.
Bruno purees beetroot to accompany his barbecue salmon platter,
while Johnnie fillets his fish, the bones of which he'll use as the basis for his soup.
Johnnie's determined to keep his head down and with good reason,
as veteran Marcus is scrutinising his every move.
He'll be holding all three chefs to his exacting standards.
'The pressure's on. Nerves are going to be high.'
What I'm looking for, as always, is excellence.
Preparation is key for the success of these dishes,
and Johnnie has already put himself under pressure
with the sheer number of fish that he has to fillet and trim.
-You've got a lot to do for this course, Johnnie?
-Just a little bit.
I know Johnnie is quite quiet now. I think he's concentrating.
Getting an eight, he wants to get another.
I think we've all got something to worry about.
I don't know what Marcus thinks about me.
I know what I think about myself - head down, crack on.
That's why I'm quiet. I really want to push on.
It's a really important competition.
Johnnie's newly subdued manner might have disconcerted his rivals.
Reigning champion Lisa is determined to hold him back with skilful technique.
She's tunnel-boned her rainbow trout through the back,
allowing her to serve the stuffed fish upright.
Rather than doing one dressed whole fish, it's nicer to do something different with it.
The theory behind it is a bit of butter on the cockles
will create a sauce.
It's a tricky dish that Lisa's got.
She's cooking a trout with salt crust. It's a tricky one. There's stuff that might go wrong.
While Lisa's hoping to make a bold statement by serving her fish whole,
her ex-colleague Bruno Birkbeck is putting a fine dining spin on his salmon barbecue.
-Those skewers look fiddly, Bruno.
-Yeah, a bit fiddly, yeah.
It's just a little touch for the barbecue, like.
I think with Bruno there's a wanting to impress with his fine dining cookery,
rather than the actual brief itself. It's about a sharing banquet -
it's not about what he does in his restaurant.
And Johnnie's dish also has Marcus worried.
With so many types of fish to cook,
does he have the technique to get the best out of his ingredients?
OK, Johnnie? What are you making the soup from - these?
-I'm making it from these.
-Where's the heads?
-Heads are out.
-I don't do heads.
-Blood, I'm not into that.
I can't believe anyone making bouillabaisse is not prepared to put in a fish head,
where all of the flavour of the fish is practically in the head.
There's no fish heads going into his soup.
He's got basic bones, the skeleton of the fish.
This is one dish that he will not be able to sneak past me as a wing and a prayer,
because I know what a good bouillabaisse is supposed to be like.
This year, the chefs are celebrating food's ability to bring people together.
And they've looked at their own communities for inspiration.
-I went to revisit my old Scout group.
-Were you Scout master?
-No, no, I went to Cubs, went on Scout camps.
-A proper outdoors boy.
Girls Guide, Boys' Brigade - what were you into?
-As many as you could get your hands on, you, probably.
To make sure his fish course hit the mark,
Bruno headed back to Kendal in Cumbria, where he grew up.
Bruno's early passion for good food was fuelled by meals
cooked in the great outdoors and shared around the camp fire.
So what better way to road-test his fish barbecue
than a trip down memory lane to visit his old Scout group?
-Hello, how are you doing?
Alistair MacKenzie is the current group leader.
So you used to be part of this Scout group, did you?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We used to come up here camping.
The food we used to cook was rabbit stews, hot dogs and onions sizzling on the stove.
It got me very interested from an early age.
Hello, there! How are you doing?
-You've gone all quiet now.
Basically, we've got Morecambe Bay shrimps and sea bass. Take guts out if you like.
Bruno hopes encouraging the kids to get stuck in
will fire their imaginations and get them interested
in cooking and eating as a group, just like it did for him.
-Who wants a go at gutting?
Good effort. Well done.
-That's the spirit!
-Eurgh, that's minging.
It's not long before everyone's got over their squeamishness
and they're working together to prep the evening meal.
Scallops in the pan there.
Will any of these connoisseurs of camp fire food have any tips for the pro?
-How do you think I could make this look spectacular?
-Don't burn it.
-Don't burn it.
-That's a good idea. Well done, fella.
-You could maybe put some herbs on it.
For Bruno, it's great to see Alistair inspiring a new generation to cook,
so they can look after themselves in the great outdoors.
-Are the kids are interested in cooking?
-They love it.
Any time we do cooking or anything, they're very interested. We do backwoods cooking.
Basically, we make a bag out of tin foil and fill it with mince,
potatoes, carrots, onions, whatever you want, and put it onto the fire.
That will be beautiful.
-So shall we have a little taste? CHILDREN:
Now that they've had a chance to share Bruno's food,
it's the moment of truth.
-How was that, lads?
-Brilliant. Very, very nice.
-I liked the lemon in the shrimps.
-The food was really tasty.
I liked it how he did it how he thought it would taste nice.
I think Bruno can win the Great British Menu, because he's got
really good quality and he obviously enjoys making his food.
To inspire little...young ones and hopefully, you know,
if you get one chef out of the group or somebody even that's just
interested in cooking back at home or something like that,
then I think it's been a worthwhile day.
And he's got a final surprise in store for Scout group leader Alistair.
I'd like to invite you, as guest of honour, to the banquet.
-Thank you very much.
-It'll be a fantastic thing.
-Hopefully, we can get through and win.
-Best of luck.
What he does here is absolutely fantastic.
He's putting in something to the kids and to their future.
It makes me push myself a bit more and definitely want to get a dish at the menu.
Three of the North West's best chefs are hard at it,
preparing very different fish dishes, each convinced theirs
is perfect to represent the region at the people's banquet.
Reigning champion Lisa Allen's hoping her dramatic whole trout
will get guests excited, as they smash the salt crust.
Maverick Johnnie Mountain's desperate to impress
with an indulgent soup made with top-quality fish and shellfish.
And newcomer Bruno Birkbeck is depending on skilful technique
to pull off his quirky take on a salmon barbecue.
Scoring every dish is former champion Marcus Wareing.
He'll send the top two through to the judges on Friday,
but one chef will be going home.
Somebody needs to be edging forward now.
And I want to see someone shining through above the other two.
So it's make or break point.
With one course battled to a draw and Marcus's verdict looming,
all three chefs have to prove they can deliver the wow factor.
Despite Marcus's concerns, Johnnie continues to simmer
his unconventional soup base using only fish bones but not the heads.
He then whisks up a traditional Provencal rouille accompanied
by combining egg yolks with garlic, oil, mustard and saffron.
Bruno lights the fragrant oakwood chippings to hot-smoke his cured salmon fillets.
And Lisa is steaming cockles in white wine and herbs before stuffing them into her whole trout.
But Marcus has spotted a possible problem.
-Aren't you allergic to these things?
-You put gloves on?
-No touching them?
-No. Done the dish, hopefully, five times.
I got several people to try it.
I'm quite shocked she's using a product that she can't taste. I think that's mad, truly mad.
Lisa's shellfish allergy means she's never tasted her own dish.
With this fish dish for me, Lisa's cooking completely blind - big risk for Lisa.
Across the kitchen and keen to make an impact, Bruno is marking his cured salmon
with a hot skewer to give it the look of being chargrilled.
What are you doing?
Just branding the salmon, really, so it gives it a bit of a flavour and that barbecuey look,
-you know what I mean?
I've seen that at Harvester - it uses the same method...
He said to me he's going to bar mark his fish.
If you're barbecuing, that should do it automatically for you.
I think with Bruno, he's young. He's a lot to prove.
He wants to make a big impact. It could be his making, it could be his downfall - we'll see.
As the time to plate up gets closer,
Johnnie sieves his stock of fish carcasses and vegetables.
-What have you done with your stock there?
-That is my base to my soup.
I'm going to blitz some very light tomatoes through there.
-It's a light, summery soup, you know.
Cos the depth and body and everything will come
from these lovely pieces of fish that I'm about to cook.
It is like a very weak, bland fish stock.
That is not a soup, and it is certainly not a bouillabaisse.
If he carries on this way,
he's going to be in for a real shock with my marking.
Fine dining chef Bruno is hoping to win extra points
for his surprise serving dish, an unlit back garden barbecue.
-This is the barbecue.
-So it's not on?
-No, it's not hot.
Little barbecue, centre of the table.
I don't understand putting the barbecue on the table and it's not lit, you know.
A cold barbecue sits in a garage. It seems a bit...childlike, really.
On the other side of the kitchen,
Lisa is calm under pressure as she applies the salt crust to her fish.
-What salt is this?
-It's ground-down rock salt.
Lisa is playing a very cool, safe game here.
She doesn't look like a chef worried about her dish at all.
Johnnie can't resist the opportunity to seed some doubt in Lisa's mind.
You sure your timings? Nine minutes -
will it get through that density of that salt?
It's a bit tricky if you get it wrong, you don't know the ovens...
There's a good bit that might go wrong.
-If I didn't like you, Johnnie, I'd hit you.
It's not the baked trout that will be judged first today, though -
it's Bruno's barbecue salmon dish.
But despite the name, the fish is actually smoked over oak chips.
The only time it will see a barbecue is when it's served on a cold one.
-How long are you going to give that in there?
-About six minutes.
I want it to be nice and pink in the middle.
Time against him, Bruno pan-fries his langoustines
and covers his barbecue fish platter under a dome of cold smoke.
-Are you happy with this?
-Yeah, hopefully, it's good.
-Somebody's got to be mother and put it onto a plate.
-Little bean salad.
-That's fine bean and shavings of asparagus and the pickled beetroot.
-Let's have a taste, then.
-Fantastic. Thank you.
Marcus and Bruno will taste the dish in private.
Because of Lisa's shellfish allergy,
it will be up to Johnnie to rate Bruno's efforts on her behalf.
Do you think that's a dish to take you through?
I'm happy with the dish.
It all came out quite nice, especially with the smoke.
That's what I was looking for.
-The bar marks...
-Should bring something.
-The best I've ever tasted. The best salmon I've ever tasted.
Quite jealous I can't eat it.
It's really spot on.
-The bar marking...
-When you put a piece of fish on the barbecue itself,
you know, you're going to get some bar marking.
-Have you actually barbecued anything, though?
-No, there isn't an element
that is a barbecue - it's just the theatre of the barbecue.
OK. What's the dish called?
-Yeah, it's called a barbecue...
-Yeah, that's maybe a down point.
The langoustine doesn't bring much to it,
-because it's quite similar to that salmon.
-What about the skewer?
It's neither here nor there, without being rude.
It's some shrimps with a bit of salmon. It's nice.
Marcus won't be revealing his scores until he's tried all three dishes.
-He's a tough man to second-guess.
-He doesn't let anything out.
He doesn't smile too much, does he?
Every course worries you, you know.
I got a good mark for my starter, so, this course,
I could do with a good mark.
Next to serve is Johnnie Mountain,
who still has a whole basket of fish to pan-fry for his soup.
Have you got a wow factor?
It's all about well cooked fish. That's what I'm trying to achieve.
Is it one of those dishes, lastminute.com?
-What's in there?
-Turbot, dory, monkfish.
That's a lot of fish to get right, that.
Next he puts cooked fish at the bottom of his tureen and covers it
with his soup, before serving with a spicy rouille and giant garlic croutons.
He's definitely thought about its presentation,
but it's the flavour of the soup that has Marcus concerned.
-The fish, is it take whatever you want?
I put really beautiful dory, turbot, lobster, langoustine, squid,
slightly undercooked it, so it was still translucent.
You'll end up, hopefully, with a perfectly cooked piece of fish.
Are you not too fussed that everyone'll get different bits of fish?
-No, that could start a conversation.
-Are you happy with that, though?
-Let's go, Johnnie.
Will Marcus find that Johnnie's novel take on a French classic
is magnificent enough to earn him a place at the people's banquet?
The methods you've used in the flavours of the saffron - everything sings bouillabaisse.
The bouillabaisse I read about, is using cheaper cuts of fish.
-Why didn't you do that?
-I'm not really into that.
-I think it's too dirty.
If we're cooking for people we love at this great street party,
I want to give them bit of a treat.
Why are you using a bouillabaisse garnish then?
Because I think it works perfectly with the dish.
Definitely a sharing dish. Would you have put that much fish in it?
Myself, maybe not, no. It is a very expensive dish, you know.
You chose not to use whole fish in the soup.
You chose to throw the heads of the fish away.
I tried to make it better, what I thought was better.
-Do you think you've made it better?
-For me, yes.
The fish is cooked well.
-It looks perfectly cooked.
-Fantastic piece of turbot.
It's not a bouillabaisse. What is the name of this dish?
This is my fish soup, Johnnie Mountain's soup.
-Johnnie Mountain's fish bouillabaisse soup.
-With spicy mayonnaise and toast.
I feel that I've definitely executed my fish course
to the best of my ability.
If Marcus isn't happy with it,
there's no pleasing all the people all the time, is there?
Last to plate up is Lisa,
whose salt-baked rainbow trout is out of the oven and resting.
Next, she spoons her new potato salad into scallop shells,
which she tops with fennel, radish and samphire.
With time running out, she finally transfers the whole fish
to a custom-made board to serve.
The baked salt crust has to be chipped away
to reveal the fish underneath.
-This is what the guests are eating out of?
-So it's dissecting this and putting a piece of fish on there.
Yes. Bang it a couple of times. You need to hit it quite hard.
Pull the salt with the spoon and the fork into the wells.
-Peel back the paper.
Hopefully with people doing this, it'll give them
a bit of "oohs" and "aahs", "are you going to do it?"
-Have I done a good job?
-Shall we go and taste it?
Has Lisa's high-risk cooking strategy paid off?
If this is the dish that you'd have on your menu, this is yours,
you can't touch any of this, really.
Yeah, I can't taste it cos the cockles are inside and I'm allergic to shellfish.
I don't think that, as a chef,
should stop me from using some of the fantastic ingredients.
You need faith in your cooking ability.
- That's just fantastic. - The fish is perfect.
Yeah, and the cockles, they're lovely, like, aren't they?
To get that accurate, she's done it so many times that it is perfect.
- Spot-on. - She's pulled a good one out of the bag.
- Big bag she's got. - Aye!
The fish, the cockles, potato salad, what's the reasoning for the flavours?
I wanted to let the ingredients speak for itself.
Rainbow trout is such a lovely fish.
Also, it's ingredients that people know.
At the banquet they could relate to what's on the plate.
Putting this sort of dish, it really honours them, the community people
to see something... They'd never have seen something like this. Mind blowing.
Not at all. It is definitely a strong one.
I'm a bit anxious now waiting for the fish course,
cos obviously it's going to set the bar between us.
Then the race has started.
With the tastings over,
the chefs are desperate for extra points to edge ahead.
It all hangs on Marcus's verdict.
Just wanting to do well. It's what I've practised and concentrated on.
Yeah, I'm nervous, without a doubt.
JOHNNIE: It's agonising.
You can't do any more. You feel almost like a helpless child.
-OK, guys. You had a good day?
Time to find out who has taken the lead.
Bruno, presentation was nice and quirky.
For me, barbecuing is a piece of meat or fish cooked over coal or wood.
I don't personally think that's what you did. The salmon was beautifully cooked.
You got the element of smoke around it, but not barbecue flavour.
Johnnie, what I found really odd about your method is that you chose
to throw away the fish heads.
For me, there's more flavour in a fish head than in the bone.
I felt the presentation was fantastic. Loved the large croutons.
I felt it was fish stock rather than a soup.
Lisa, your sea trout, the presentation was outstanding.
-I thoroughly enjoyed the process, a fun thing to do.
-Thanks very much.
Of course, there's always going to be the downside -
that you can't taste the cockles.
You'll never know whether it's right or wrong.
But to the main point, which is the scores.
Bruno, for your barbecue salmon and shrimp with langoustine...
-..I'm going to give you a five.
Johnnie, for your fish soup...
..to be really honest,
I was very disappointed with the soup.
-I thought it was very bland.
-For me, it's all about flavour.
For your fish soup...
..it's going to be a four, mate.
Lisa, for your salt-baked trout...
..it's been the dish of the North West so far.
I'm going to give you...
-Thank you very much.
-Well done. A dish worthy of the final. Excellent.
Guys, you've got a lot to do. Thank you and good luck.
-Thank you very much.
-- All right, big man. - It's me and you.
So after day two, it's all change.
Lisa is in first place with 17 points.
Trailing Lisa by four points is Bruno with 13.
And Johnnie is in last place with 12 points.
To get a comment like that and to get a score like that,
it's just made me determined to fight even harder now.
Hey, Marcus is the man. He knows what he wants. He's a hard judge.
That's why he's here, isn't he?
For the effort and thought I put in this year, I'm really gutted.
To get a four for all that work and effort, but I think Bruno, he's my one now that I have to catch.
Tomorrow the fight continues with the main course bout.
Have you got a sweat on? Are you all right?
I'm going to come out fighting. It's going to be cracking.
-The chefs are pulling out all the stops.
-Now it's to fight for.
They've got to really go for it.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Great British Menu is back, and the competition is fiercer than ever as the nation's top chefs are being challenged to cook for the ultimate street party. Last summer, the best part of million people took part in The Big Lunch - a nationwide one-day event that encourages people to cook and eat with their neighbours. Inspired by this, our chefs are battling to create spectacular sharing platters, dishes that will get everyone talking, proving that food has the power to bring us all together, for a magnificent street party: The People's Banquet.
Each week three chefs battle it out in the kitchen for a chance to cook at the banquet, and a veteran of the competition tastes and scores their dishes every day. The pressure is on, as only two chefs can make it through to cook for the Great British Menu judges at the end of the week, and one will be going home on Thursday.
The chefs from the north west - Lisa Allen, Bruno Birkbeck and Johnnie Mountain - pull out all the stops with their fish dishes: A barbecued selection of oak smoked salmon, Morecambe Bay shrimp skewers, sheildaig langoustines, fish soup with rouille croutons and whole salt-baked rainbow trout to share, cockles, potato salad, fennel and samphire.