It's decision time for the two chefs remaining from the Central region. Now they cook their entire menus for the judges Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton.
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It's judgment time on Great British Menu,
and a place in our national finals is at stake.
Three of the Central Region's top chefs have been fighting it out
to get a dish on the menu at the People's Banquet.
All week, tension has been running high.
-Do you want me to shut up?
-Yeah, that would be great, if you would.
And former champion Glynn Purnell
had to issue an unprecedented warning to one contender.
It's not fair that people are hitting times and you're not.
This is a final warning.
Sue Ellis scored lowest and had to leave the competition early.
Today, Richard Bainbridge and Aktar Islam must cook their entire menus again for the judges.
He's just showing off, and he's not showing off very well.
Not good enough. Two sauces are fantastic, but you cannot live on sauce alone.
Both chefs desperately want to win today.
The prize is a place in the Great British Menu final,
where the regional champions will do battle for the honour of cooking at the People's Banquet.
Michelin-starred Richard Bainbridge is here for the second year running,
but this is his first time before the judges.
I'm confident with my dishes, I know they're good.
I've got to make sure they're perfect going out.
Aktar Islam has scored well with his innovative take on authentic Indian cuisine,
but he knows he has his work cut out today.
Richard is an extremely talented chef and he's a quirky guy,
and that character comes through on his food.
But I've got interesting flavours and that's the angle I'm going to use.
Our discerning judges, Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton,
are looking for magnificent platters of food,
delicious dishes that will create a spectacle and be perfect for sharing.
It has to be showy, it has to look beautiful.
I want to see something that sort of sits on this table
and we all want to get our hands into it.
And when you DO get your hands on it, or your knife and fork, it then melts in your mouth
and sends your senses spinning and singing home.
Aktar and Richard will both cook their four courses today.
With two very distinctive styles, the judges may guess whose dishes are whose.
But they won't know for certain until they've picked a winning menu.
Both chefs know how much is riding on today.
Aktar, at this point, obviously we've got through the first hurdle.
-Do you think you're safe?
-I do want to make it onto the banquet.
Glynn's done very well for our city, and he's made it onto the banquet.
I want to sort of keep that Brummy tradition going.
But now you've got a Norfolk boy trying to push you off.
Don't ever underestimate us Norfolk boys!
In the heats, Aktar's ambitious tiffin of Indian street food
made him late to the pass, something Richard won't let him forget.
I'll go up first for starter, give you a little bit of a helping hand.
That's so considerate of you. Thank you very much.
I like to think of myself as a gentleman.
I think I've got it in the bag, but thank you very much anyway.
I'll return the favour to your main course.
I knew there was a cocky, arrogant side of you.
I was waiting for it to come out, to be honest.
Now Richard needs to focus, as he's first up today
with his quirky take on an English picnic of quail
served in individual hampers, with a Scotch egg,
cheese scone and tomato vinaigrette.
I've just done a little tester on my Scotch egg,
cos Glynn was commenting about it maybe needing more cooking.
-Do you want to try some?
I'd say a touch too much salt.
Richard knows the presentation could make or break this simple dish,
but with time tight, a napkin has gone missing.
-I'm still one short. Got to be around here somewhere.
-I'm going to have to...
I've done all the possible, er...
You feeling the pressure, chef?
Richard wants everything to be perfect for the judges.
He's well aware he can't afford to be late.
Duh! They were underneath the flap. I've found them. Panic over, people.
You're telling me today's all about having fun. Still having fun?
I'll ask you after you've served your starter.
-Give you a hand with the boxes, chef?
-Yes, please. Let's go.
Disaster averted, Richard gets his starter to the pass in the nick of time.
Lovely. Go, go, go! Away.
Richard gained a good score for his starter in the week, despite its simplicity.
What will the judges think?
Thank you, Prue.
-It's a picnic!
-It's a very small picnic.
I think that's slightly disappointing.
-It's just a little dinky plate.
-A little Scotch egg, there.
-Sweet, delicious pork.
Lovely, crunchy, slightly sandy outside.
Mm! That quail is delicious.
One of the most important things about this box is it stops you communicating with other people.
It's very personal to you. So you're not sharing the food.
But it's delicious to eat, and it's beautifully prepared.
It's fun and it's funny. But it isn't fabulous. And I think that's where it falls down.
So some praise from the judges, but hardly a resounding triumph.
Could it be a chance for Aktar to push ahead?
His complex dish includes stuffed courgette flowers,
pea and spinach cake, and pakora.
In the starter round, not only was late, but he failed to execute all the elements to a high standard.
Richard's hoping that Aktar will slip up again today.
So, how you looking, Aktar? Think you're going to be on time for this one?
I should be OK.
Tick-tock, tick-tock. Five minutes, uh?
-You're not TOO relaxed now, are you?
-Oh, not at all, mate.
Aktar places his array of Indian street foods
into modern tiffin boxes.
But Richard's not finished with him yet.
-One minute left, chef.
-OK. I'm just...
How are you at tying a knot in speed?
Maybe you should go and spend some time in the navy.
Aktar's not put off his stride
and brings his tiffin of Indian street food
and selection of chutneys to the pass bang on time.
Be careful with that. And we've got all the dips there.
Prue, has that presentation been elaborate enough for you?
-This is real sharing.
-But it's a picnic, still.
-There we go.
-It's not an unhefty first course.
Well, I don't know.
-Fine courgette flower.
I think courgette flower's nice. The flavour of it's slightly lost.
I don't see why we need the sauces,
because each of the individual items are flavoured so well.
You don't HAVE to have it. You can choose whether you have it.
I don't understand why the chef... It's like turning up to 11 on the volume.
The little potato cake is definitely helped by the chilli.
Do you know, I think this would be hugely popular.
It ticks all the boxes about sharing, about looking spectacular.
A slight query over the practicality of it all.
I feel slightly sorry for the chef, cos if he goes through on this, he's not just cooking one dish,
he's actually cooking one, two, three, four, five dishes.
-..100 times, which is, as they say, a big ask.
So, mixed reviews for Aktar, too.
With three more courses to go, the field's still wide open.
Next up, it's the fish course.
Richard will again be first to the pass,
with '70s-inspired lobster fondue. And his nerves are starting to show.
Terrified about putting up my next one. My fish is my weakest.
Aware that he beat Richard on the fish course,
Aktar is keen to find out if he's upped his game.
-Are we going to see any changes to that fish at all?
-I know my flavours are there.
I think the way my fish is dressed is fun, is quirky,
it's not over the top. Clearly, you're a fella who likes to go over the top.
I like to keep my feet on the ground a bit more.
-I'm all about impressing. I like to make the effort.
-I know, I've seen your car outside.
Lobster cooked, he pours out his fondue sauce
and adds a final quirky touch - some dehydrated vegetables he hopes will intrigue the judges.
-Which way are we going?
-Just on the pass. That'd be great.
'Obviously, Aktar's feeling a bit more confident, a bit more cocky, but that's spurring me on.'
All I want to do now is beat him.
It's our old friend the lobster!
I think I might have fallen asleep by the time this actually gets round to being served.
-Oh, I think it's intriguing.
-Right, we dip that in there.
-Is this going to be incredibly messy to eat?
-Very messy to eat!
I don't understand why we didn't get one each.
This is a sharing exercise, remember?
-This is absolutely delicious.
-It IS delicious.
Perfect lobster. Sweet as anything.
-These desiccated bits, I'm not sure they add anything at all.
-A chewy texture.
-It's just not right, though, is it? Come on, let's be honest here.
-I'm just not feeling the love for this.
-I don't agree.
This is very luxurious, very beautiful and a real treat.
This is so not a feast for the eyes. It's got no sense of occasion to it.
I wouldn't want to see a concoction like this
-at such an important occasion.
-Do you know, I would love to see lobster,
because I think it's so special. And anyway, I LOVE lobster.
But I agree with you that he could have made that lobster look so much more dramatic.
So a mostly positive reaction from two of the judges.
Now it's Aktar's turn, and Richard knows his fish course is a strong contender.
He's serving a double dish of wild sea bass with coconut gravy
and soft-shell crabs with mango chutney.
While Richard's knowledge comes from training in Michelin-starred kitchens,
Aktar is largely self-taught,
and his methods have been fascinating his rivals all week.
You can tell that's come through tradition, family,
through doing and tasting and eating,
whereas I've been taught strict, "This is right, this is wrong".
It is literally from intuition. That's the thing with spices - it's a hard thing to master.
Richard's hoping his precision will give him the edge today
and Aktar's intuitive approach will let him down.
-I would say half-steam it and then put the spinach in.
-If you touch that, you can see it's still slightly under.
Earlier this week, this was the second course that Aktar delivered late to the pass.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, Aktar. Six minutes left.
And Richard's taking every opportunity to pile on the pressure.
Do you still think serving whole crabs for a banquet is fitting?
Yeah, everyone likes a bit of crab, I'd say.
I'm from Norfolk, we have some of the best crabs, but I wouldn't serve it deep-fried.
-It's all about this lovely batter they're in.
-Yeah, delicious batter.
I ain't going to tell you how to cook it, mate.
Aktar has managed to get his sea bass to the pass on time today.
But have Richard's jibes rattled him?
Yeah, I'm feeling slightly nervy with the crab now.
I would have liked it to be a bit more crisp.
I'm hoping that's not picked up on too much.
The pressure got to me towards the end.
Now, that's more like it. That's drama. That's theatre.
One problem with cooking sea bass like this is the fact
that it's very easy to overcook it, and I think that's what's happened.
I do love the sauce. I think the sauce is delicious
and I think it's a wonderful, a really delicious contrast to the first course.
Bass are not particularly good when they're large.
-Bass are much better when they're smaller.
-No, it's not.
I'm sorry, it is the bigger the bass, the better the bass.
This green mango relish is just delicious.
Soft-shell crab needs to be just perfect in order to eat it.
And it isn't. It's really a bit soggy.
The idea of this fish as a sharing dish is a very good idea.
I'm rather addicted to this stuffing.
The stuffing's lovely, the sauce is lovely, but the fish is flavour-free.
It's a slight comment on the dish when you think
the sauce and the relish are the best bits of it.
I think you could have served up an old telephone directory with those
and it would have been delicious.
And they've ALMOST rescued the fish, but not quite.
The idea's right, a big fish, dramatic. The cooking's not good enough.
Two sauces are fantastic, but you cannot live on sauce alone.
Back in the kitchen, it's the halfway stage,
and both chefs hope that they are in the lead.
And with two courses still to go, it's all to play for.
To cook at the People's Banquet was always my goal,
from the minute I said "Yes" to the competition to this point.
That is still my main goal. I just want to get there now.
We're here for the opportunity to cook at the People's Banquet.
It's very serious. It is cut-throat.
We're both gunning for that position.
Onto the main course
and Aktar's serving slow roasted shoulder of lamb
with cashew nut and caramelised onion gravy.
Plus three different vegetables and biryani.
This was his highest scoring dish during the week.
Every chef loves to be the big main course winner.
You're right, every chef wants the main course. And I'm no different.
-It's like the manly role, isn't it? You get main course.
-You're the man.
Now Aktar's plating up first and Richard's keeping up his campaign to unsettle him.
You seem a little bit stressed, rushing around.
Is it you're worried about getting there on time? What's the one thing
you think might not be ready? What are you worried out?
I'm just trying to get my veg and stock ready,
so I've left a lot to do for this course.
But seeing how well his lamb has turned out,
gives Aktar the confidence to fight back.
Ten minutes, I'm there, man. I'm there. I am...super super.
I'm in the zone. It's all working for me. It's working.
Aktar quickly puts the finishing touches to his lamb and brings his dish to the pass in a bullish mood.
Main course awaits, it's quite heavy so I bet you wish you'd been to the gym now, don't you?
You know, the main course went out absolutely perfect.
The vegetables were perfect.
In fact, I think it's perfect, really. I'm very happy.
Aktar may be pleased, but what will the judges think?
-Now, that's a feast for the eyes.
Yes, but is it a feast for the tastebuds and tummy?
That's the question. Does it taste good?
That lamb is absolutely delicious. It really is.
Just melts off the fork.
The rice is absolutely wonderfully light.
This is pumpkin, I think, and lentils like dahl.
And I'd never had thought of putting those two things together, but it's really good.
There's a real sense of conviviality to this dish cos you've got to pass around all the bowls
and try all the different things and what's in that.
It's a big course to come across after you've had two more and you've still got pudding to go.
Does it make it difficult to plan a menu that this could be the centrepoint of?
I think some people would feel it was a bit too homely, too unsmart.
I mean, it does look a great mess.
I think it's really fantastic for sharing. It's beautiful.
I don't think it's too heavy. An excellent bit of cooking.
So Aktar's dish is a hit on nearly all levels with the judges.
He's set the bar high, so will Richard's beef Wellington
served with cottage pie and glazed vegetables measure up?
It's just dawned on me, Richard, that the main course is out,
-I've only got one more course to go.
-How many do you think
-got after main course?
You've still got your main course to go, so...
Aktar's talking a good game, but he's keeping close tabs on Richard,
who's having last-minute doubts about his beef wrapped in a brioche crust.
I don't even know how the meat inside is going to be.
You're a little bit more safer than me on this one cos you know how your meat is cooked before you serve it.
With mine, mine's all encased. I can just put it in the oven and just hope that it's going to come out right.
Richard's also worrying about the cottage pie made with ox cheeks inspired by his mother.
So, Richard, are we doing anything different with the cottage pie?
Just putting a bit more ox cheek in.
-Cos Glynn said about how he would have liked
a little bit more meat in it and a little bit more moist.
Richard brings his classic beef Wellington, cottage pie
and glazed vegetables to the pass.
He's hoping that one particular element of his menu will make the food stand out for the judges.
So, what I want you to do is put this down in front of them.
If somebody doesn't mind picking this up, passing it around the judges.
They all pull a straw each, the shortest one wins the prize
of putting on the chef's hat, the apron and the cloth.
Then they carve the beef to each other.
-Thank you very much.
I think there's more fun throughout my dishes, whereas Aktar's don't seem that fun to me.
They're really tasty but they ain't that fun.
But is it fun these judges are after?
"Who wants to be mother? Shortest straw".
Oh, that looks very short.
Well, I think this will certainly get a bit of conversation going.
Right, I'm there. I ready for the action.
We've had some very superior beef Wellingtons in the past on GBM.
This is not one of them. I don't like the beef for a start.
-I think the beef's a bit tough.
-I disagree with Oliver, I think the beef is good.
Brioche, is that the right crust to put around the outside? I think it's slightly burnt.
I don't think he's made a very good brioche.
I think it was cooked a bit too fast or something because it's very hard on the outside.
-A bit of armour plating.
-A bit of armour plating.
The best thing on this dish is this little ox cheek and mash.
The ox cheek has been really cooked down, look at that.
It's a melting fibrous gunge. This is essence of meat, this is.
-That is very, very skilled cooking indeed.
There's not a lot of happiness about this dish is the problem.
It's not street party fun and frolics, is it?
What I want to do is settle down in the armchair, put the newspaper over my head and fall fast asleep.
Which isn't quite the point, I think, of the main course for this banquet.
With only one chance left to impress the judges, the tantalising prospect
of cooking at the People's Banquet is playing on both chefs' minds.
One course and that's it. Are you going to miss me?
I'm missing you already. But, don't worry, I'll invite you to the banquet!
Aktar will be the first to the pass again with this course,
his array of Indian-inspired desserts, chai panna cotta,
coconut sorbet, mango shirkhand and strawberry samosa.
If I get to the banquet, I probably won't invite you, but my heart will be thinking of you.
I might get you down to commis for me. But then, I'm a bit worried you won't be able to turn up on time!
Fortunately for Aktar, the chai panna cotta that caused him so much trouble in the heats has set today.
Nice to see the panna cotta standing up today.
Richard can't resist a final dig at his rival.
-Three minutes away from the pass. Last dish.
Think you've done enough to beat me?
I don't mind, you can be honest, mate. If you think you've not done enough to beat me, that's cool.
Aktar is too busy trying to caramelise his mango to pay any attention.
Do you think you'll be able to do that for 100?
As he brings his dessert boxes to the pass, Aktar's feeling jittery.
This is a present from me to thank them as my guests. Thank you.
I'm so anxious. Right now, I just want to go in front of the judges
and I want to know what my fate is. Whether I make it through
or if this is the end of the road for me, I just want to know.
This looks like a little selection of Indian dishes.
-I'm fairly certain that is coconut.
I think this is delicious, this ice-cream. It's very fresh.
Oh, those strawberry inside the most delicate of pastry.
I have a slight problem with the texture of the panna cotta.
-It's quite solid.
-It's a little bit too solid.
Sorry, everyone's being far too polite here.
There are four puddings here which are essentially restaurant puddings.
I'm sure it's from his restaurant. He's just showing off.
To be honest, I don't think he's showing off very well.
I thought it was absolutely delicious, unusual, lovely. And I like the box.
But I think Oliver has something about it's not a sharing pudding.
It is a hotel pudding.
Not exactly the triumphant end to his menu
that Aktar may have been hoping for. Can Richard take the advantage?
He's making '70s-inspired DIY ice-cream sundaes
with four different flavours of ice-cream - strawberry, vanilla,
chocolate and pistachio.
As he gets down to work, Aktar has all the time in the world to give him a taste of his own medicine.
This is it, this is your final chance.
There's nothing else you can do. After this there's no way you're going to redeem yourself.
-It could be the end of the road for one of us.
-Are you confident?
It's just too tempting to add to Richard's anxiety.
Did you sharpen the jam up?
-Because we were talking about having something sharper.
-I thought about it and then I changed my mind.
Obviously the vanilla is slightly sharp on the finish, but you...
Don't rip my dessert apart, as I'm about to put it up, mate!
Richard puts his strawberry compote, chocolate soil,
strawberry meringues and sugared nuts into pretty glasses,
stacks up his strawberry biscuits then brings everything to the pass.
Good luck, don't drop it.
-I think it looks like a confectioner's window.
-It's beautiful, isn't it?
-Time to load up.
-I quite like the combination of textures.
Everybody can choose their own favourite ice-creams.
-I love all the colours, they're so summery, aren't they?
What you can see is cream fights everywhere.
I think the idea of self-assembly is quite good fun.
It doesn't make my heart beat faster.
The idea is fabulous, I love the idea of pick 'n mix, build your own pudding.
-What could be better?
-It's terrific fun.
It would still be a really boring pudding. That's all it would ever amount to.
It's never going to be a thing of beauty.
It's never, ever, going to be a thing of...
The cooking is over and all the chefs can think about
is whether they've done enough to get through to the next round.
I'm not going to lie, I'm desperate to hear my name called out
cos I want to get to the banquet. I can dream of me being at the banquet.
Richard, amazingly talented guy but, after experiencing all the courses,
to be honest, I don't see anything standing in my way.
Right, I think perhaps we ought to look at the menus.
In the chamber, the judges must decide which menu they think is best.
Richard's strategy was to be quirky,
fun with a touch of nostalgia.
Aktar took a different approach
and created dishes with theatre
that would be perfect for sharing.
It was very much a day of two menus, I think.
And we're fairly clear who cooked which.
I think there's a good chance that one, or even two dishes
from the winning menu could end up at the banquet.
It's interesting looking at two chefs who come from completely different journeys.
I don't know who I'll to vote for.
It's difficult, but the truth is, we have to pick the best menu to go forward to the final.
-One of those two menus, Oliver. Have you made up your mind?
-Yes, I have.
-Have you made up your mind?
-I have, Prue, yes.
-And so have I.
So we will get the chefs in.
With all four courses tried and tested,
it's time for the chefs to learn their fate.
So, welcome, chefs. I guess you've had quite a stressful week.
I've enjoyed every moment of it but it was very stressful.
-And, Richard, how about you?
-It was one of the hardest weeks in my life, to be honest.
We've had quite a difficult day today because there's been some great food from both of you.
But we do have to choose by the menu, not by the individual dishes and we have all made up our minds.
So, Oliver, Menu A or Menu B?
-It's Menu B for me as well.
-Menu B for you too.
Well, I'm actually Menu A, but that means Menu B has won.
Of course, neither of you two know who is A and who is B.
So we had better find out.
Well, the chef going forward
to represent the Central Region
in the Great British Menu final will be...
-Good luck, mate.
-Aktar Islam. Well done, Aktar. Congratulations.
-Tell us how that feels?
-It feels absolutely amazing.
To be totally honest with you, I felt I came in as a bit of an...
bit of an underdog to this competition.
So...I'm just pleased.
All I can say is we ate a great deal of food.
I think the sheer scale of eating was unusual, even by our standards.
It's a compliment to both of you.
I think, Aktar, it was your menu as a whole, not that it was entirely without fault,
but nevertheless I think that was what won me over.
The lamb was absolutely amazing. That was your knock-out dish.
I think the fish was overcooked, possibly you need to look at doing something to it
to maybe make it look a bit more dramatic.
Richard I must say I voted for you because I thought the skill of your cooking came through on every dish.
Perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked. They were master's dishes, they really were.
But congratulations, Aktar, you really do deserve it and commiserations, Richard.
-It was a close call. So thank you very much indeed.
It's a pleasure, thank you.
'The comments I got from the judges,'
technical skill, fantastic cooking, that's enough for me right now. I'm chuffed to bits with that.
-Thanks every so much, guys. Thank you.
-Thank you very much.
I'm over the moon. Emotions I can't put into words.
This week has been very tough for me, I've had a lot of problems. But, finally, I've come through.
Next week on Great British Menu, three chefs from the South West
brave the kitchen, but can they take the heat?
-I'm ready for a fight.
-I want to win, I want to get a dish to the banquet.
I believe I can come out on top.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
It's decision time for the chefs from Central region. Only two chefs remain and now they cook their entire menus for the Great British Menu judges Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton. The judges aren't easily pleased and only first-class cooking will do.
Only one chef can make it through to the national finals to represent the Central region and get the chance to cook at the People's Banquet. If they win, one of their dishes could be paraded down the ancient cobbled streets of Leadenhall Market and served at a magnificent street party, a banquet for the people and inspired by the people.