The Central chefs, Richard Bainbridge, Aktar Islam and Sue Ellis, pull out all the stops with their fish dishes, hoping to impress former champion Glynn Purnell.
Browse content similar to Central Fish. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
This year's Great British Menu has produced some of the most innovative dishes from Britain's elite chefs.
Tonight it's the central region in the culinary spotlight.
The chefs must cook the most outstanding fish dish for the ultimate street party.
On yesterday's programme, returning chef Richard Bainbridge stole the show.
Honestly, I'm ecstatic with getting an eight.
Whilst for competitive Sue Ellis and Aktar Islam the results were a big blow.
I'm not happy with five out of ten because to me that just means average and I'm not average.
I don't really want fives, they are middle of the road.
So how will their fish courses deliver?
Everything will be under the scrutiny of former champion and Michelin star holder, Glynn Purnell.
They have to put themselves under the cosh and get some serious fish dishes up on the pass.
Everyone in the kitchen knows that there's still everything to play for.
Oh, chef, what are you doing over there? Has someone got a point to prove? Getting a little aggressive?
These guys know what they are doing so I can't relax for one minute.
At the heart of this year's contest is food that brings people together.
The aim is to dream up the perfect menu for sharing, and the chefs must draw on
all their tricks of the trade and look to inspiring characters who use cooking to make a difference.
Do you think this sort of food would be good to serve at a party? BOYS: Yeah. Yeah?
Former champion, Glynn Purnell, is expecting a lot from this course
after feeling that the starters weren't hitting the mark.
Starters are done, they're buried. Whatever score they've got they need to forget about. Fish is next.
I know what it takes to win the fish so I want to see some serious food. I want to see fireworks.
First into the kitchen is Richard Bainbridge from Norfolk.
He stormed into the lead with his quirky picnic of quail starter but can he deliver with his fish course?
My fish course, if I'm honest, is my weakest one.
I think I would like to change it now if I could.
What have we got? So, I'm going to do fondue of Norfolk lobster.
I'm just going to poach that off in a little bit of clarified butter, then I've got a nice, beautiful,
classic French butter sauce made with the lobster heads,
and a twist. There's got to be something that probably shouldn't be on there but I like it. OK.
I've got some dried vegetables with the moisture of the sauce and the moisture in your mouth,
they'll slowly start coming out and adding a bit of texture.
And the sharing bit I suppose is everyone around the fondue dipping lobster in. Yeah.
If you want to get the spoon in to eat more sauce, and just feel posh and luxurious and enjoy it.
Can Richard strike gold again with his extravagant fondue
using lobster, the king of the sea?
For me, Richard's got a fantastic ingredient in lobster.
It needs to be cooked perfectly, otherwise you may as well get a bag of frozen prawns and throw them in.
Next up is innovator Aktar Islam,
known for putting his unique spin on authentic Indian cuisine.
He scored a five when he tried to do too much in his starter,
but the knock back has fired him up even more for his fish dish.
I need to get this course in order to push me along and boost that confidence again.
So, fish. What are we doing?
This lovely wild bass here. What we're going to do, stuff that
with some spinach, wrapped in banana leaves, it's going to be roasted off.
Are you going to use light spices or are you going to...? Yeah, spices are very light in this.
And then we've got these, and I love these, soft shell crabs.
Then we're going to use raw mango to make a fresh chutney. Are you confident with this dish?
Definitely. This is the course that is going to pull it all back for me. Really? This is it, yeah.
Aktar was over 20 minutes late to the pass in the starter.
Will he be able to get his ambitious double dish of sea bass and soft shell crab finished on time?
I think Aktar's got a lot of things going on again,
hoping a lot of the ingredients he's using will combine into one dish rather than four or five dishes.
He needs to concentrate and make sure his timings are a bit better than they were with the starter.
The final competitor is Sue Ellis from Pershore,
who is determined to go all out to improve her score today
after failing to impress yesterday with a starter that lacked substance.
I am confident in my fish dish.
I think it has got a wow factor. I like the simplicity of it
but still with a little bit of twist and a bit of quirkiness, so hopefully that's going to come out.
So what are we doing today, then? Jasmine smoked salmon, asparagus, hollandaise.
Are you serving the salmon hot or cold? It's a warm smoked salmon. OK.
We've a lot of processes with this salmon. First it's cured,
then I'm going to smoke it with the jasmine. I do love the smell of this.
It's very floral. Very, yeah. So you've got to get that just right. Obviously not too much.
And then after that just pan fry it before I serve it up.
What was the inspiration behind the dish? People's Banquet.
Trying to think of the people that, you know, that I would take to the banquet if I'm lucky enough.
What do they like to eat? Classical, and that's what I feel so I'm going classical,
bit of a spin on it, maybe something they haven't seen before, but something they can relate to.
Sue thinks her tea smoked salmon offers timeless luxury with a twist.
But with a dish this minimal, has she left herself nowhere to hide?
Sounds very simple
with the asparagus and the hollandaise. A few concerns.
Oversmoking the fish, the jasmine over-flavouring the fish,
and the actual fish being overcooked. Those are my main concerns.
In the kitchen, the chefs know that under veteran Glynn's watchful gaze
it's vital to start off on the right foot with faultless prep.
I've taken my region to the banquet with a fish course
so I want to see those guys showing as much passion and energy as I had when I won that course.
So that's what I'm looking for today.
As Aktar gets to work on his soft shell crab, he wants to find out what he's up against.
Have you guys been involved in many competitions in the past?
Last year was the first ever competition I'd ever done.
I always vowed to myself when I became a chef that I'd never do any competitions because I never wanted
to put myself in that situation.
I say that, but second time round I'm still here. You are.
I have done quite a few competitions.
I've won every one that I've done so far. Woooh.
Thought I'd get that in there... Slipped that in. ..while I can.
Richard holds a Michelin star, Sue has trained under Michelin-star chefs,
but Aktar is largely self-taught, much to the interest of his rivals.
I can't really do recipes because our style of food is so much about intuition.
If I ever asked my mother how much chilli would you put in that she'll just say, "This much."
Can you imagine if we said, "That much," to our chefs? I know. Can you imagine what we'd get? Yeah.
Aktar knows front runner Richard is the one he needs to unnerve today.
What are you doing? I'm just doing dried vegetables,
some cauliflower, red pepper, asparagus, some French beans. There's still a little bit
of moisture in them but once you start dipping it the moisture comes back.
Does that intensify the flavour?
It's just something a bit unusual, a bit different, and a little bit quirky.
Although Richard is putting on a brave face in front of his rivals
he's still feeling nervous about his lobster fondue.
This one I need to cook it to the best of my ability,
whack it out and see how it goes. That's where I'm at with this.
Glynn knows Richard is playing a high risk game.
What are you up to, Richard?
Um, just cracking my lobsters, just getting the shells off.
I'm going to pop them in the bag with a bit of clarified butter,
a little bit of salt and pepper. It's just really simple, it's like nice.
For me, the danger that Richard's got with his dish is that if he overcooks the lobster, for one,
but if he over-reduces the sauce and it and becomes like gloopy and quite bitter
I'm concerned it will blow the flavour of the lobster away.
Like Richard, Sue is using luxury ingredients and her salmon and asparagus
and hollandaise will need precision cooking or risk ruining the dish.
She's adding a contemporary twist by cold smoking the salmon with jasmine tea,
a tricky technique which could be her downfall.
If I'm lucky enough to win, you know, all the competitions I've done in the past
so for me losing is not an option, I'm going in, you know, all guns blazing.
I desperately want to win this. I need to make sure that the tea flavour is absolutely perfect.
Glynn has his own worries.
After underwhelming with her starter, Sue needs to deliver an impeccable fish dish.
Jasmine pearls in the bottom, I'll just lift that off quickly, ice is in the bottom.
OK. That happens three times to make sure. It smells strong but it's going to take a long time for it.
Obviously it's not a lot of smoke coming off that so it still keeps cold.
It has to be cold smoked because you don't want it to start cooking.
Because it's already cured, then I'm smoking it, then I'm pan frying it.
Sue says she needs to smoke it three times so, and then she's going to roast it, so I'm slightly concerned
there's too many processes going on with the fish because at the end of the day I want to taste it's salmon.
Aktar is grappling with the 16 ingredients needed for his coconut gravy
and although complexity was his downfall in the last course
he's quick to dismiss Sue's simple approach.
Come on, smoked salmon, hollandaise and some asparagus. Who can go wrong with that?
Aware of Aktar breathing down his neck and anxious to maintain his lead,
Richard finds time to pile on the pressure, by reminding him of his failing in the starter - timing.
So what are you doing there, chef? I'm just making a banana leaf parcel to steam my bass in.
So you wrap it all up. Wrap it all up.
Whack it in the oven. Yeah. 15 minutes in the oven, take it out...
An exact science? 15 minutes it's done or...? 15 minutes or so.
It's all alien to me, chef. Don't be late though.
No, no, no, I'm, I say that but, no, I don't intend to be.
Aktar's freaked me out a bit because there's so much going on,
there's so many flavours, and I'm not even going to pretend I know what's going on.
Next, Aktar starts on another element of his dish, his fermented rice batter pancakes.
These need to be crisp on the edges but soft in the middle, so the mixture must be exactly right.
Aktar's perfectionist streak means that nothing will go to the pass unless he's 100% happy with it.
He can't afford another average score,
but Sue is convinced he's out of his depth in cooking for a banquet.
How are they going now, Aktar?
Getting better. We are heading in the right direction which is the most important thing.
After I get the batter right the next thing is to get the right amount on the ladle right,
just to cover the pan. Is that what you're doing? Trying to get the batter right.
It's not an exact science.
My dish is simple but I can pull it off. If you can't pull something off,
at the end of the day you've got 100 people waiting for you. Time matters.
As well as being fiercely competitive and wanting his dish to win,
Aktar has another reason for getting through to the banquet.
Like all the chefs, he's been exploring his neighbourhood looking for ideas for his menu
and meeting people who already use food to bring communities together.
He went to Birmingham to meet Umama Ahmed, a volunteer for Shoulder To Shoulder,
a charity which runs food flash mobs for homeless people.
Motivated by the hunger that Muslims experience during Ramadan
which is broken by the evening meal, the iftar,
the idea is to share food with those who are hungry all the time.
I grew up in an Islamic home and, you know, Ramadan, food really brought the family together,
and she's actually using this concept and taking it out to the wider community,
and I want to see how I can use this as my inspiration for The People's Banquet.
Flash mob iftars have been taking place across the nation
in town squares, green spaces and church halls.
Hi, Aktar. Hey, how are you? Hey, nice to meet you.
Aktar is keen to help and wants to try out some spicy fish parcels on the flash mob that Umama
is organising for tonight. The kind of definition of a flash mob is when you get a text message before it
and everyone turns up,
so we are kind of stretching the meaning a little bit because it's a bit more organised.
The idea is that people get together from different parts of the community
and coming together, eating food together and then just dispersing.
While the fish is in the oven, Umama spreads the word that the flash mob will be happening tonight.
How do you let people know? Through word of mouth. People tell friends
who go on to tell their friends and we use things like text, email and social networking.
With the food ready, it's time to get to the church hall in central Birmingham.
Word has quickly got round and the atmosphere is buzzing.
What will they make of Aktar's dish?
Just had some of that. It's really nice. I love fish.
That's beautiful. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much for everything that you've done for us.
You are a good chef as well.
A thumbs up for the fish, and the experience has really hit home for Aktar.
To see people from, you know, various backgrounds here today
enjoying themselves purely because of the food that's here,
just absolutely amazing and it is an eye opener really because we don't pay attention to those
who are less fortunate than us, and it's something that'll stay with me.
Overwhelmed by seeing Umama's life-changing work in action,
Aktar has a heartfelt request to make before he says goodbye.
I really hope that I get my menu on to the final banquet because
I would love to invite you as my guest of honour.
Thank you. That's sweet. My gosh, thanks a lot. No, you deserve it.
I've got to make sure I get there. Yeah, we'll keep our fingers crossed. Best of luck.
Back in the kitchen,
self-taught Aktar, whose methods are already perplexing the others, is cooking his sea bass blind,
but Glynn is acutely aware of the risk. He needs to be confident
that Aktar can deliver his dish perfectly cooked and on time,
not just now but for the 100 guests invited to the people's banquet.
I mean he's got some serious confidence in producing a dish like that and if the fish is undercooked
or overcooked, the day is over. We're dwelling somewhere down in
the threes and fours so he's got a lot riding on this dish.
All three chefs are working hard to create the perfect menu to go through to The People's Banquet.
The challenge this year is to create the perfect food to share, a real feast for the eyes.
Will it be Richard's retro fondue of Norfolk lobster,
Aktar's spicy sea bass with coconut gravy
and soft shell crab with raw mango chutney,
or Sue's simple cold Jasmine smoked salmon
with asparagus and hollandaise sauce?
One of these chefs won't be cooking for the judges on Friday
but Glynn is the man they need to impress today.
It's up to them to put the foot on the gas and produce some serious food
that's worthy of representing the central region at the banquet.
Back in the kitchen, the chefs race against the clock to finish.
Aktar is still having problems perfecting his pancakes.
His reputation is on the line and he knows he can't be late again.
I don't mean to be funny, but you've been making them all day. We're getting there. Can I try that?
Not that one. I'll make another one.
Try it, try it when I get it right.
He still didn't seem in a rush to get there, which irritates me a bit because why should I work so hard
to get there when he's got that kind of cocky-go-lucky attitude?
Glynn is also intrigued by this element of Aktar's dish.
You keep it on a moderate heat so it just
sticks all the way. I could do with a more batter on that.
When you're making any batter or pancake, it's good to do some testers
because then you can adjust it with a bit more water, maybe it's a touch too thick or...
That's right, chef, and that's what I'm trying to do.
Will it be like a cracker once it's cooked?
No, no, it's still quite soft and can be used like a bowl.
So that's the plate almost? Yeah, it's a plate in a plate.
Although impressed with the risks Aktar is taking
to secure his place in the finals, Glynn has one big concern.
It's important the dishes that the chefs are doing are achievable for the banquet.
Aktar is struggling with time now, so what's it going to be like with 100 portions?
On the other side of the kitchen, Richard livens up the sauce for his lobster fondue with some alcohol.
Having seen Aktar struggling,
he's now feeling more confident about his dish but he knows he's not infallible.
That will just be freshened up with a little bit more brandy and a little bit more...
Brandy? A little bit more brandy and a little bit more lemon juice, just to give it that little bit of oomph.
Yeah. It's luxurious, it's sexy.
All my dishes through the whole menu, I think, are quite retro, really rich flavours,
really exciting, but it's just classical and it's fun. Yeah. I'm going old school.
I believe in it and it tastes fantastic but have I got the wow factor
compared to these guys? We'll have to see.
Sue will be the first to the pass today.
To make her hollandaise sauce, she slowly whisks warm butter into egg yolks and vinegar.
If this isn't done correctly, the mixture will split.
She then cooks the asparagus and finally places her salmon into a tea chest.
Shall I open? Please.
Oh, that's cooked.
OK, shall we, ah...?
This is all about the finger food, really.
So you would use your fingers for this one? Yeah. OK. We're serving this for the guys. Sure.
You need a bit of hollandaise, I think, don't we? Lovely.
Well, we'll take this one, Sue.
Yeah. After me.
Will Glynn think she's delivered this classical dish with a twist
or will he once again find it lacking in substance?
While Sue and Glynn taste her dish in private,
Richard and Aktar will be able to discover whether Sue's dish is a serious contender in this course.
The plate it's on now... Yeah. ..how would we have eaten the salmon? On the board?
I like the thought of people taking the salmon
but just literally grabbing the asparagus and eating it.
What do you think of that hollandaise? It is split, isn't it? Yeah.
And it's not as though she was rushing at the end, she knew what she was doing.
Do you think it's smoked enough?
I think it's smoked enough, I like the perfume off it.
When it comes to the flavour, it's quite mellow.
I think it could be a little bit more smoked for me.
The asparagus, was that cooked enough for you?
For me, that's perfect.
It's very squishy, isn't it? You want that crunch to it.
Do you think the dish is too simple?
Salmon, asparagus, hollandaise. Does it need any more?
OK. It needs something else, because after you've had that, that's it, it's over.
You've tasted three things, what else are you going to talk about?
His face isn't smiling... It's not. ..with excitement.
And you think this dish would be suitable for a banquet?
I do love the presentation of it and I think that when that's put down in front of you,
yeah, I think it's ready for the banquet.
Really happy, it's the way I wanted it to look,
it's the way I wanted it to taste, I'm hoping for a good result.
Next to plate up is Aktar and as he cooks his pancake yet again,
Richard is going for his Achilles heal.
What are your chances of being on time?
Well, I'm hoping to be on time, I think we've got this one nailed.
I know what to expect. Don't worry, you will be going home tonight.
But just like yesterday, he's late, causing some consternation in his rivals.
So then, Aktar, how are we looking? We're looking good, just in the final bits of plating up,
so, couple of minutes. When you say final, we're nine minutes past already. Just pointing that out.
An issue with time. Time, yeah.
Do you want my watch? You've got that posh watch on,
anybody would have thought you'd be able to tell the time.
We're only teasing, Aktar. We're just jealous, I think. Or are we teasing?
Finally, Aktar makes it to the pass, but he's 15 minutes late, which is unlikely to impress Glynn.
Happy? Yeah, I am, yeah. Just had a bit of trouble getting the batter right
but they are sort of crispy on the ends and inside they are soft, so there you go.
So you've got this lovely fish which has been roasted off with the coconut and tamarind.
So what you normally do is finish the crab off and then move on to the fish.
Oh, so you eat the crab first? Yeah, right.
So it's just finger food.
OK. And you've just got a little bit of the sauce. Let's try this.
You guys have a dig into that. OK? Enjoy, guys. Thank you.
Will Aktar's fish prove worth the wait
and can he convince Glynn he can get it served on time at the banquet?
So, again, slight issue with the timing or...?
I wouldn't say an issue with timing. I'm used to at the restaurant doing everything last minute,
so what I need to do is change that mode in me and start working...
Moving faster. Yeah.
What do you think? It wasn't what I was expecting, I have to say.
I think I was waiting for a powerful flavour there.
I'm not sure if I like it. The jury's out at the moment.
Are you happy with the spice of the fish?
I didn't want to over spice it and lose the flavour of this
wonderful fish, so very, very lightly spiced on the inside.
We went from the starter that was so strong in flavour,
now we're on the bass, which is almost too light for me.
So this pancake, or what's its proper name?
It's called an appam. And is it fermented rice? It's rice batter, yeah.
For how much work went into those pancakes... Yeah. And late. ..I was expecting something different.
For me, just this - it's just enough.
Is it spectacular enough for the banquet?
The dish is perfect for The People's Banquet because
someone opens the parcel and out pops this beautiful cooked fish.
Despite being late to the pass again, Aktar is confident he's got the fish course in the bag.
Well, I put a hell of a lot of hard work into that dish. I mean,
sorting out the batter, getting all the flavours right, cooking that fish
perfectly blind without any timings, that deserves reward and I think Glynn needs to give me a ten on this.
Next, Richard puts the final touches to his lobster fondue.
He slices the lobster tail and claws and prepares his fennel and frisee salad
and, bang on time, finishes by pouring the lobster sauce into a retro fondue pot.
So, how would we eat this dish? We have one of these between two people so the idea would be, you know,
this would be in the middle, they can dive in and have plates to start putting the lobster on,
start taking some salad, because the idea is that you will be giggling going,
"Oh, is that...? Oh, my word, it tastes amazing!"
I really must go to Norfolk, one day. That's what it's like, pretty much.
Right then, me and you... we need to get tasting this.
Right, let's go. Follow me.
Time to discover if Richard's '70s-inspired lobster fondue is a crowd pleaser worthy of a feast.
Although this dish has given him sleepless nights, Richard thinks he may just have pulled it off.
So I'm going to roll this in...
Is the sauce too strong for the fish? No.
And it just compliments the lobster, and just a little touch of class.
That sauce is good. The brandy is coming through. It works really well.
It's rich, it's nice, good flavour.
Happy with the cooking you've done? Perfect.
Doing it in the water bath, he's got the control and I think it's worked for him.
Do you think the dry veg gives enough flavour to the lobster?
I think it's nice, it's just subtle enough. They're not completely dried
so they are hard. There's a bit of moisture there.
Don't you think the dehydrated vegetables are pretty hard and quite hard to chew?
Yeah. Not sure if I really think you need it.
Is it spectacular enough for a banquet?
I don't need a four foot long board to show off my food.
If the flavours are spectacular enough and are sexy enough and good enough
and it's yum yum enough, to me, that's enough.
I do think this sauce, the flavours are there, and they interact.
He's definitely got that as well, so I think he's ticking the boxes.
We could be under some pressure. He might be heading for another eight.
I am more happy about just getting my fish course how I wanted it
than probably winning the starter at the minute.
That's how giddy I feel about it. I feel good.
With the tastings over and all three chefs desperate
to add to their scores, they must now wait for Glynn's verdict.
You have no idea of the pressure, the feeling,
the knot in your stomach you have when you're waiting for the scores.
It's really hard to call, because...
I still don't know which angle Glynn is going at.
It terrifies you. You can't help, you're being judged.
Sue and Aktar are trailing Richard and are desperate for high marks, otherwise it will be
even harder to catch up, and although Richard is on top,
he could easily be toppled. This isn't his best dish.
Fish course, second one down. Sue, your jasmine smoked salmon -
everything was cooked quite well.
Slight problem with the hollandaise, it looked like it was just starting to split.
The presentation was quite impressive
but I just thought, once it was put on a plate, it needed something else. It looked a bit sort of lost.
I think it needed a touch more acidity as well.
Aktar...your fish and crab -
I thought, when you opened it up with the banana leaf, it had a real sort of wow factor.
This time round, I thought the spices were more controlled, which was good.
The mango salsa went really well with that crab.
I was really sort of miffed on the pancake.
I thought it was a lot of messing around for what, in the end, turned out to be a soggy pancake.
Richard...your lobster fondue -
I thought the lobster was cooked well.
The fondue, I was concerned. I thought, "This could blow my head off", but it was subtle and creamy.
And again, the dehydrated veg, I was thinking, "Oh, you know,
"veg that's been dried out..." I thought that was a bit sort of, "Oop!"
I thought it really worked. There was a bit of texture, it was chewy.
But I thought the king of the sea needed a bit more of a royal welcome, really.
It was all like dinky bits. I thought it needed a bit more of a fanfare.
And now for the scores.
Sue, I'm going to give you...
..six out of ten.
Aktar, I'm going to give you...
..eight out of ten.
Richard, I'm going to give you...
..seven out of ten.
But Glynn has a bombshell for Aktar. He's putting him on first and final notice.
I don't think it's fair that people are hitting times and you are not.
This is the final warning. OK? Are you fair with that? Yeah, sure.
Cheers, guys. If Aktar is late again, it could seriously affect
his chances of getting through to the judges on Friday.
After the fish course, Richard's score of seven
keeps him in pole position with 15.
Aktar is now second with 13 points,
and a devastated Sue is in third place with 11 points.
I will wake up tomorrow morning all guns blazing. I'm not going to be...
OK, I'm a bit deflated today, but tomorrow, a whole different Sue.
I've achieved the highest score, but ultimately we're only half way through.
There's two other courses to go through and anything can change, so I'm not going to start relaxing.
I'm in a better state this year than what I was last year,
but it's still the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.
Tomorrow, it's about to get even harder with the main event - the main course.
I don't want to send wishy-washy half-hearted dishes
to the judges. I want the central region to be represented with perfection.
Will Aktar take note of Glynn's stern words and turn his time keeping around?
If you're late, you're messing me up, yeah? Yeah.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The Central chefs, Richard Bainbridge, Aktar Islam and Sue Ellis, pull out all the stops with their fish dishes, hoping to impress former champion Glynn Purnell. Will he choose: Jasmine tea smoked salmon with asparagus and butter sauce, fondue of Norfolk lobster, or influences from the Konkan coast?