Beginning with their starters, the Welsh chefs Aled Williams, Gareth Jones and Hywel Jones battle it out, with Angela Hartnett deciding who gets through to the judges.
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Britain's top chefs are braving the heat
in the Great British Menu kitchen...
..pitting their skills against each other to produce the ultimate food for sharing.
As the sparks fly...
You've got two minutes to go.
-What's your point?
-Oh, you're getting aggressive.
..the renowned veteran chefs scrutinise all, demanding perfection.
You have to deliver every dish on the money.
Mediocrity is not going to work.
It's a new week and three of Wales's finest talents are running the gauntlet.
They know there's no margin for error.
-My Glamorgan sausages.
What's the penalty for being late?
Round one is the starters, and new challengers Hywel Jones and Gareth Jones
are both determined to take the crown from returning Welsh champion, Aled Williams.
I'm absolutely 110% committed to winning this.
This competition means everything to me.
It'll be a gruelling week, but I'm up for the fight.
This year's competition is about bringing people together through food,
creating fantastic platters for sharing at a glorious street party.
The challenge this year has been really hard for a lot of chefs.
I've practised tirelessly, lost sleep over this.
The chefs have been inspired by the Big Lunch -
an annual event that encourages people across the nation
to throw a party with their neighbours.
But to make it to the banquet, the chefs first have to impress a veteran chef,
who knows exactly how demanding this competition is.
This week, it's the formidable Angela Hartnett,
Britain's top female chef, who holds both a Michelin star
and an MBE for her dedication to the craft.
She's twice flown the flag for Wales in the Great British Menu kitchen.
Fundamentally, the food has to taste amazing,
so they've got to cook at the top of their game.
Come Thursday, she'll be sending the two highest-scoring chefs through to the judges
and one chef home.
There's nowhere to hide. We just have to do justice to our dishes.
The roe deer and the hake...
First up, and new to the competition this year, it's Gareth Jones.
Table 24, Freddie.
The head chef at Bodysgallen Hall, a renowned country house hotel
set in stunning country surroundings near Llandudno in North Wales.
Gareth is determined to go all the way
with a hearty menu of refined Welsh party food favourites.
With the menu I've created,
what I've tried to do is keep it close to Welsh traditional dishes.
I've tried in every dish to have some interaction,
something to get people talking over the dish.
Lots of pork, I see. What dish are you doing?
We're doing Conway pork hotchpotch pie
and pig dippers in a pot of pickles.
What's a hotchpotch pie?
So, hotchpotch, it's a really nice pork pie.
-So what are you putting in there? Ham hock?
-That's going to be a nice ham hock.
Some nice pig's cheeks, and Conway black pudding.
Wow, they look great. What are you doing with the pigs' trotters?
-They're going to be part of the pig dippers.
We're doing trotter, brazed and deep-fried, they're nice and crispy,
then some nice shards of crackling.
-Then some little pickled onions, pickled eggs...
..and pickled Snowdonia mushrooms.
Jeepers, a lot of pickling going on.
What about for sharing, will it work with that?
What I'm looking to do with my dishes is the interaction.
-So everyone's getting their elbows in. It's good sharing food.
Everyone has to get in there, really.
New boy Gareth is hoping to make his mark on the competition
with a picnic of porky bits and pickles.
The dangers for Gareth
is there's a lot of meat. It's purely meat.
Everything is, bar the little quail eggs and mushrooms,
so it might be too heavy for a starter.
Next up is Hywel Jones,
executive chef at the prestigious Lucknam Park hotel near Bath.
Although another first-timer to the competition, he's the most decorated chef of the bunch
having held onto a coveted Michelin star for more than five years.
The sauce ready?
Hywel plans to use his impeccable culinary mastery to his advantage
in a competition menu of Welsh classics with contemporary twists.
I've taken a lot of inspiration from the dishes I remember from being a child.
Some of it is dishes I enjoyed sharing with my family.
Others I've been trying to get that wow factor into them.
What are you going to be cooking today?
I'm doing my version of the classic Welsh cawl.
So, tell me what cawl is.
It's a lamb and vegetable stew or broth.
That goes in the centre, a big bowl everybody helps themselves to.
In the individual bowls I'll put the bits of cawl that are my favourite.
OK, so, are you like making your mother's recipe?
My mother will probably cringe when she sees this.
Right, what have we got here?
Lamb sweetbreads. Lamb tenderloins, I'll lightly smoke those.
I'm going to make a little leek and Carmarthen lamb ballotine,
braised cabbage bowls, stuffed with minced lamb.
So how does that work for sharing?
At home, we have a big pot of cawl in the middle of the table
and we all sort of tuck in and pick the bits we want.
Hywel's kicking off his menu with a bold update
to the home-spun broth, cawl,
but will it succeed as the perfect starter to share
at the people's banquet?
It is just a bowl in the table, help yourself.
Once the lamb broth's in the bowl, that's it, you're going to eat.
So it doesn't continue the sharing elements throughout the starter. That's what I'm worried about.
Last, but by no means least, it's returning Welsh champion Aled Williams,
the former head chef at Plas Bodegroes in Pwllheli.
Aled's returning to the competition determined to improve upon last year's finish,
with a technically ambitious menu of Welsh sharing platters.
I got two dishes in the top three last year.
So close for me, but I didn't quite get there.
This year I'd love to go one step further and get a dish on the banquet.
How are you?
I'm going to do guinea fowl four ways.
So what are the four ways you're doing it?
One of the legs slowly braised with lemon thyme,
and then turn it into an oggy, so it is like a little pasty.
The other leg I'll bone out and make a ballotine with some Welsh chorizo sausage.
Then a little buttermilk, crispy deep-fried wing. Sorry, the liver parfait as well.
Have you got enough time with all of these plates?
We're going to have to push on.
Do you think this is going to work for a sharing dish?
I hope so. It's going to be served on Welsh slate
and more of an appetiser-style.
To retain his title,
Aled's opening gambit is to serve one bird four ways,
but in taking on so much, is he risking failure?
With guinea fowl he's got to make sure it's not dry,
but if he gets one of those elements wrong and it's dry, he's going to lose his crown.
In the kitchen, the three chefs are sizing each other up.
Veteran Angela is scrutinising their every move.
Will they live up to the challenge?
They've got to prove themselves,
to make sure that what they serve today is spot-on.
Breast. A little bit of bacon fat.
With someone of that calibre judging you,
the level she operates at, she knows what's good and what's bad.
One of them is going to get voted off,
so they've got to make sure they're up to the mark.
As newcomers to the competition, Gareth and Hywel
have their eyes firmly fixed on reigning champion Aled.
Obviously, Aled is a big threat. Coming off the win last year,
he's the Welsh champion, he's the man to beat this year.
What did it mean to be the Welsh champion last year, then, Aled?
An awful lot. I love Wales. It's where I'm born and bred.
Representing my country, it's like the chef Olympics, really.
I was up there flying the flag for Wales.
So, Gareth, you obviously have a Scouse twang to your accent,
how are you connected to Wales?
Well, my dad's Welsh.
I spent a lot of time as a child in Wales at my grandmother's house.
I live in North Wales, work in North Wales, even though I don't sound particularly Welsh.
As long as you wear the dragon on your heart and your sleeve, I don't mind, mate.
Aled, pushed, with four separate starters to prepare,
has noticed Gareth's staking it all on a single centrepiece pork pie.
There's one thing having a pork pie, if it's a good pork pie.
If it's dry, it might not be a good pork pie,
so, you know, he might be, you know, in trouble.
-Are you doing the jelly inside?
-Not jelly, I don't need to.
This will fill the whole pie so I won't need to put jelly on the top.
-I do enjoy a good pie.
-You can't tell!
Gareth is confident that kicking off the people's banquet with his pork pie picnic
would best reflect the spirit of the event.
I think that my starter will fit well with the banquet
because it is, my dish is almost party food, really.
It's a nice pork pie, pot of pickles.
But it's Angela who'll decide which dish best fits the brief.
OK, what are you doing in the water bath?
Re-warming the trotters.
These are the dipping element?
Yes, so we can clean them all up,
so we can cut 'em into nice strips for deep frying.
What's this here?
That's going to be the pie mixture, pork mince, pig's cheek, ham hock.
Where are your mushrooms and stuff?
They're all pickled.
I think we've all pushed it. We've all got a lot of elements.
I think we're all taking risks, but that's what it's all about.
All the chefs have drawn on their own experiences
to inspire their stunning street party platters.
Gareth spent his childhood over the Welsh border in Blacon.
He headed to the estate where he grew up
to meet his father Colin, for a chat about his roots.
-Were you surprised when I said I was going to be a chef?
because you never cooked an egg, really. I'm not quite sure where it came from, really.
-It was a job, wasn't it?
-It was a job!
While Gareth's choice of career might have come as a surprise,
cooking up food for sharing is definitely something that runs in the family.
Nanny used to be in the Red Cross, she'd do turkey dinners for old people.
-Old people from the community?
-Nan used to help with the cooking?
-That's right, yeah.
I'd come home from school and help set the place up
-and try to nick what turkey was left at the end.
-Nick the scraps!
It's this cooking heritage, along with a menu of unfussy
party food that he hopes will take him all the way to the banquet.
My style of cooking is modern British.
Nice, simple, good flavours.
I don't think a lot of the chefs in the competition will know
or have heard of me. It's a great advantage for me.
Hopefully by the end, they will know who I am and they will know what I can do.
Back in the kitchen, Hywel is working on the garnishes
for his traditional Welsh cawl broth.
There is a bit of smoke coming on here.
It's the lamb tenderloins. I want to use them as a garnish in the cawl.
My smoked lamb is going to add a different dimension.
I'll try to build a few layers of flavour into the dish.
This competition is hugely, hugely important for me.
It's a chance to pit myself against the best chefs in the UK.
If I'm to succeed, I know I really have got to be on top of my game.
He's bringing a technical precision to his cooking by wrapping
his sweetbreads in potato spaghetti before deep frying them.
-What are they?
-Sweetbreads which have been braised.
Nice and soft, so a juicy sweetbread with a nice crispy potato outside.
Ultra-competitive rival Aled
thinks Hywel's taken a leaf out of his recipe book.
I had a lot of success with that potato-spinning machine last year.
I did my crab bon-bons with the same. The judges loved it.
It got us in the top three of the final.
Let's see if it pleases the judges as much as I managed to.
Well, you know, Aled has been here before. He has represented Wales.
He got through to the final the last time.
So he is clearly the one that I need to be looking at to beat.
Top drawer Michelin chef Hywel Jones's first experiences
of sharing food were from his childhood in Newport, Wales.
Sharing food should be
a huge part of family life.
It's important to make that effort. It was always a huge part of my upbringing.
It's something that we make an effort to ensure, that my children enjoy the same.
To help him plan his perfect menu, he's asked his sister Bet
and her children, to join him and his kids
and reminisce about good times spent at the family table.
The first memory that I can remember is going to Nan and Grandpa's.
-Remember the chips?
-And Black Forest gateau.
-They wouldn't let anyone else cook them.
-Cooked in lard.
-They were the best.
-They were delicious.
So many amazing memories of going to Nan and Granddad's for dinner.
Having a big Sunday lunch with Mum and Dad.
What I need to do now is get how I used to feel at the time across,
the passion that went into what Mam and Nan used to do.
-If I can do that, I think I'm on to a winner.
-Well, best of luck.
-Let's get some lunch, then.
-Come on, boys.
You want some of that, don't you?
-Who's stew is the best?
-You prefer Nanny's stew to my stew!?
-I like Daddy's stew.
-You like Daddy's stew, do you?
-And I like your stew.
Having drawn inspiration from great family feasts,
he's looking to recreate them in a sophisticated menu.
I'm determined to go all the way to the final four.
I've put a lot of thought and effort into my dishes.
I'm going to practise them religiously.
Dishes that he thinks are true to his Welsh heritage.
Every Welshman is proud, but they don't come much prouder than me.
Snap me in half, I'd have Wales written through me like a stick of rock!
Back in the kitchen, defending champion Aled is finishing off his liver parfait.
Battling against the clock,
it's just one of his four ways with Guinea fowl.
You have quite a few bits and bobs on your dish, haven't you?
I've got four elements, this is the filling for inside the oggy. So we have the slowly brazed legs...
-It sounds like something you shout at a rugby match.
-That's where it came from.
-Is that it, oggy, oggy, oggy?
-Yep. I know I'm up against it today,
but at the end of the day,
-I'm here to win.
-Wow! Fighting talk.
-So, let's push on.
You can be as confident as you like,
but you've got to really fulfil it on the plate.
He's making a pastry, making a ballotine, stuffing a leg. There's lots to do.
So he's got the pressure on to make sure every element is tip-top.
If one of the elements of the dish is not up to standard,
then it's going to bring the whole dish down. So I'm really pushing
to get all four elements to the perfection I want.
Aled's quest for menu ideas took him
to a famous landmark with some very special memories.
We've got Snowdonia mountain range here.
It's the largest mountain in Wales. It's absolutely stunning.
For me, this is where I know I'm home.
I can think of worse places you would want to be.
Aled grew up an hour's drive north on the island of Anglesey
and his passion for great food has always been linked to his love of the Welsh landscape.
I guess this is where it all started.
On the weekend I used to spend time with Dad. Chill out here, do some fishing.
We used to catch the fish, a mackerel, turbot, a sea bass, if you were lucky.
Straight home to Mum's house, I used to prepare it with my father
and then my mum would cook it. We would all sit down at the table. It would bring the family together.
Just kind of, just brilliant memories, really.
These boyhood fish suppers
helped set him on the path to a cooking career.
-Fine, thank you. What have you got there?
-Oh, fish. Lovely.
-Fish for you for your dinner.
-It's not slimy and flappy, as they used to be.
-It's all ready to go.
His mother and grandmother were his first tutors in the kitchen.
We used to go to Nain's house. She used to have a fabulous home-cooked Sunday lunch.
Traditional style. All of us sitting there, saying how good the crackling was on the pork.
The crackling on the pork. Remember the queue in the kitchen?
-Who was going to get the biggest piece of crackling?
He's gone on to great success, including winning the Wales title
last year, but can he repeat the triumph?
I've got a bit of experience, maybe all eyes will be on me this year,
but at the end of the day, it's what you produce on the day,
and hopefully my food will be fantastic!
Three talented chefs in the kitchen and three very different starters.
Which will be the most spectacular platter to
share at the people's banquet?
Will it be the seriously skilful, Hywel's refined cawl broth?
Gareth's hearty hotchpotch pork pie with pig dippers and pickles?
Or reigning Welsh champion's Aled's ambitious guinea fowl four ways?
All three chefs are confident in their dishes,
but it's Angela who'll be scoring them and she's keeping an open mind.
I want to see a bit of imagination. It's got to be this one big amazing dish
that straight away you judge with your eyes.
Hywel will be the first to the pass today.
He's got six separate garnishes to make for his take on the Welsh classic, lamb broth of cawl.
You're up first. The pressure is on.
-What's this one?
-That's from my smoked lamb loins.
-I bet that is something your mother never used to do, did she?
-What's this one over here?
-This is the little stuffed cabbage balls.
-Wrapped in cling film tightly?
Hywel's got to make sure that the garnish doesn't overpower the broth
and also to really make sure that broth is absolutely amazing.
Cool under pressure, Hywel puts the finishing touches to his garnishes.
He wraps baby leeks in Carmarthen ham and pan fries until crisp...
then braises his minced, lamb-stuffed cabbage leaves
and loads them into the individual bowls along with the sliced lamb tenderloins.
The sweetbreads are on the side.
He's serving the broth separately in a large sharing tureen.
Is it the perfect dish to break the ice at the people's banquet?
-OK. So this is the cawl, then?
-This is the broth.
-I tip all this in there?
-Yes, and that becomes the dish.
So, do you think this is a dish that people will get involved in and excited about?
I think it's going to be a bit of intrigue where people are saying, "I wonder what that is?
"What are those squares? What's inside the bowl?"
All right, I'm going to take that and we'll go and eat.
Angela and Hywel will taste the dish in private giving his rivals
free rein to size up the competition.
So, first impressions. Do you think it's a feast for the eye?
-Really simple presentation.
-It's not trying to be anything it's not.
It's not over the top.
Do you think that when you put that on the table it's going to have that wow factor?
I think it will.
I think it's so intriguing, people are going to be asking questions.
-They have to get involved to help themselves to the broth.
-Do you think people know what cawl is?
I think it's relatively well known, even outside Wales.
-Do we know what's inside here?
-It looks like a sprout.
It's a Savoy cabbage.
So, the leek and the Carmarthen ham roll is really nice, full of flavour.
I had a tiny bit of grit in mine which is unfortunate for Hywel.
We'll see what Angela thinks of it.
And you have the smokiness of the lamb?
I didn't want it to be too strong, I didn't want it to distract from the rest of the dish.
It's quite a mildly flavoured dish, really.
-I'm a fan of sweetbreads.
-I love sweetbreads.
Nice and soft in the middle, nice and crispy on the outside.
-Very simple, but very effective.
-Does it make your nervous?
Has Hywel's chefy take on a Welsh classic hit the mark?
To get a good score for the first course is very important, it's like anything,
if you start a rugby match, you've got to start well,
it's the first ten minutes that breaks the back of the game.
I don't want to be playing catch-up in the second half.
Next to put his dish in front of Angela is Gareth and he's feeling the pressure.
I'm glad that's over.
You understand what the competition is all about now. The pressure in the kitchen.
Gareth's got quite a bit going on.
He probably seems the more nervous out of all three of them.
He seems the more frenetic, the more frenzied.
Obviously we don't cook like this every day, do we?
He's adding drama to the dish with a brightly coloured mayonnaise,
made with a special Welsh ingredient.
Can I have a look at that? I've never seen bright red mustard before.
-Have you got any idea what makes it so red?
-I think there's red wine in it.
-There you go, then.
-There you go.
Gareth's pinning his hopes of hitting the top of the leader board
on a party-style platter of pork, including a pie,
deep fried trotters and crackling, topped off with a pot of pickles.
You need your little spoons and forks.
-So we've got the Conway pork hotchpotch pie.
Hotchpotch. With pig dippers and a little pot of pickles. It comes together well.
-A feast for the eyes when you put it down on the table?
-I hope so.
The idea of the dish is that everyone tucks in and pulls it apart, really.
So, I'll give these guys a plate here. Then we have the mustard.
-That's for to dip everything in?
-All right, bon appetit. Follow me, Gareth.
Is Gareth's pork feast the right dish to get the banquet started?
-Obviously we've taken it off the board and plated it.
-It doesn't look the best now.
The idea is that it is picnic style, that everyone grabs something.
How do you feel that's going to work as a sharing platter?
I think it works well. Just dig in really, is what I'm looking for.
-Nice, crispy pastry. It is tasty.
-It is definitely meaty.
-This is the trotters.
-The trotter. Nice texture.
-I love crackling.
Sometimes when you do crackling it can smash your teeth.
It's crisp but it's not going to break any teeth.
-That's nice, that.
What about the balance of the meal, starting with a pork dish?
I don't know your menu, so you feel that's not going to be too heavy?
It's possibly a little bit of a heavy starter.
But there's a really light fish course
and quite light main course as well.
If that was put down in front of me in the banquet I'd be happy to eat it.
Whether I'd be going home and telling my children about it,
-It is certainly a technical dish.
There is a lot of work and processes in it,
but whether it's got the wow factor, I'm not 100% sure.
But it's Angela who will decide if the dish has the imagination she's looking for.
I'm not too sure how Angela took it, she didn't give too much away.
There's a lot of things that could have gone wrong today,
but luckily didn't. We're just hoping for a good mark.
To try and retain his crown as the Welsh champion,
Aled has given himself the massive task of serving Guinea fowl four ways,
with oggies, ballotines, deep fried wings and liver parfait.
Another minute, please. Even-golden will be great.
The other chefs are happy to crank up the pressure.
Aled, you've got quite a lot going on in this dish, haven't you?
-There is quite a few elements.
-Can you manage it for 100?
You feeling the pressure, Aled, or...?
-I don't want to let myself down, so there is a bit of pressure on!
Aled, completes his dish by deep- frying the confit wings
in traditional Welsh buttermilk.
One minute, please.
And finally he serves up all four dishes on a piece of Welsh slate.
-Yes. Four ways.
-So here we have a parfait made from the livers.
Here we have one of the legs with a chorizo sausage made in Wales in the centre.
The oggies, which is the other leg braised with nice lemon thyme
and Welsh vegetables and then we have the crispy buttermilk wings.
-The truth is in the taste.
-Do you think for 100, that's a possibility?
-I totally think it's a possibility.
-You want this served on a crouton?
Yeah, just a little scoop of that.
-Lovely, thank you very much.
Each of Aled's four ways with Guinea fowl will have
to be as good as the next to impress Angela.
Do you think this works as a sharing plate?
I think it would be a good conversation starter,
you have the different elements of a bird which is, in my opinion, underused.
-Maybe they've not heard of on oggy.
-Are you happy with the consistency of the pastry,
that's how you want it to be?
Maybe a couple of more minutes. It could be a little crispier.
-All right, this one is the ballotine. So that was the leg boned out.
-Yes, and chorizo sausage.
What do you think of the skin?
-It's a bit chewy.
-But it's cooked nicely, it is nice and moist.
Then you've got the parfait made with livers.
This is a little bit too runny.
-I prefer it a little firmer, if I'm perfectly honest with you.
-Shall we try the wing next?
-I think that is very good.
-A nice, light crispy batter.
-I'd be happy with a bowl of them!
You believe it's going to give that wow factor of this is a great sharing dish for everyone?
I'd hope so, for me it would be a great banqueting dish.
I care so much about representing my country at the end of the week.
I'm a little worried about the scores, we've had three cracking dishes.
Tastings done, there is nothing the chefs can do, except hope for a good verdict.
It's now the waiting game, to see what Angela,
a massively respected chef, thinks of our dishes.
Trying the other two dishes definitely has made me
realise how much of a task I've got on my hands if I'm going to be successful in this.
To get a below par score would possibly knock your confidence, but it is important that it doesn't.
OK, guys. How are you all?
Hywel, your cawl, I thought it was a lovely sharing dish.
Especially I like the idea it was your mum's recipe.
The smoked lamb, I thought maybe a tad more smoky,
it could have come through a bit stronger.
The only thing I think you missed is that feeling of presentation,
that feeling of this is this amazing wow factor.
Although it was beautiful it tasted great,
you are essentially putting soup in a bowl.
Gareth, your pork hotchpotch pie with pig dippers and pot of pickles,
I thought it really, out of all of the dishes,
really had that sort of feel of this is a sharing platter.
I thought that the pastry tasted fantastic on the pie itself.
You might need to think maybe it's a bit heavy for a starter.
And Aled, your Guinea fowl four ways with shallot marmalade.
A great concept. The leg was lovely and moist, you know, the little wing
was fantastic as well, but I love the idea of this oggy.
This Welsh equivalent of a Cornish pasty.
The lemon thyme was slightly strong, one of the down sides
I thought was the parfait. I think you knew that yourself. It is thinking on your feet.
If I realised it was that soft, I would have maybe kept it in the jar.
So, Hywel, for your cawl...
..I'm giving you seven out of ten.
For Gareth, for your hotchpotch pie
and pig dippers...
..I'm giving you seven out of ten as well.
And for Aled, for your Guinea fowl four ways...
..I'm giving you six out of ten.
So next it's the fish course, guys, good luck with that.
With their starters behind them, first timers Hywel and Gareth
have made a strong start in joint first place with seven points,
leaving returning champion Aled trailing behind with just six.
I'm up the top with Hywel at the moment, fighting.
A really good start, I'm really happy with a seven.
I know Aled won't be happy with dropping a point at this stage.
So I'm sure he's going to be gunning for us now.
I'm going to be coming back fighting tomorrow in the fish course.
Basically, I know I need to raise my game.
I'm one point behind the other two chefs.
In tomorrow's fish course, Aled will be pulling out all the stops
to hold on to his title.
Wow! Look at that, you could put a small dog in that, couldn't you?
Everything to win, everything to lose, game on, boys.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
Welsh chefs Aled Williams, Gareth Jones and Hywel Jones battle it out, with Angela Hartnett deciding who will get through to the judges. They begin with their starters.
Will it be guinea fowl four ways, Conwy pork or cawl?