Chefs Tom Kerridge, Phil Thompson and Tom Aikens from London and the south east battle it out, serving up their starters for Jason Atherton.
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The competition on Great British Menu is ferocious.
The nation's top chefs are straining every muscle
to produce spectacular food to share.
There's been drama and despair.
-And the veteran chefs are very demanding.
-This competition is tough, tough, tough.
These guys have got to nail every single dish.
This week, three top chefs
from London and the south east enter the fray.
Last year's regional champion, Tom Kerridge,
went on to cook the main course at the banquet.
But that was last year, and now Tom's being challenged
by two newcomers - rising star Phil Thompson
and the truly formidable Tom Aikens.
It's going to be a titanic struggle.
It's pretty immense. It's three Michelin-starred chefs.
Everyone in there is a winner.
Everyone wants to be the winner of winners.
This year, the chefs' big challenge is to seek out
the remarkable people in their local communities
who bring us all together through the power of food.
The People's Banquet will be for them,
a celebration of their work, and they'll be amongst the guests.
It's very important with a banquet to reward people
who have done a lot for the community. It's been an amazing experience to be part of.
These outstanding chefs have to create dishes
that are ideal for sharing...
..platters that will astonish the guests and get everyone talking
at the ultimate street party.
Scrutinising the chefs this week is another Michelin star winner,
one of only three chefs to have cooked two courses at a banquet.
It's former London and south east champion, Jason Atherton.
His scores will determine who faces the judges on Friday.
This is the People's Banquet. These guys have to get the brief right,
and that is sharing food.
If they don't get it right, they're in big trouble.
-One fish and chips, yes?
Today it's the battle of the starters,
and the first contender is Tom Kerridge,
chef patron of the Hand and Flowers in Marlow,
where he serves up his brand of modern British cooking.
Flavour, taste, simplicity.
Those are the things that really, really work for me.
And that approach took Tom
all the way to the banquet with the Prince of Wales last year.
How do you do? I did the main course.
-That was the duck?
-Yeah. I did the duck main course.
I loved the pods.
With the peas in. Yeah, it was fantastic.
Tom thinks this year's People's Banquet is made for him.
I'm one of the people, cooking people's food. There has to be room
for one of my dishes on the banquet, if not two, three or all four!
Let's go then, please, service!
-Hello, Tom. What have we got?
Spring lamb broth. Different cuts of lamb.
What are doing with this?
It's kind of a play on Malaysian, Vietnamese street food.
A bit of green chilli, helping to lift the richness of the lamb.
What inspired you to cook this dish for the people?
It's the point of sharing, somebody actually has
to take the top off the bowl of soup, they have to ladle it out
to everybody else. That's where the inspiration for this comes from.
Are you feeling nervous, worried?
Last year, I thought I was going out.
It was one of the worst experiences I've ever had.
I don't want to be in that space again.
Tom's mixing up British and Asian influences
in his soup starter with a pastry topping.
But there's one element of the dish that has Jason worried.
Tom Kerridge, got an unusual dish here -
a soup with raw lamb. The soup's got to cook the lamb.
That's a risky thing to do. I hope Tom's thought about that.
But Tom is facing a much bigger challenge than that.
Next away, one bass, one JD, one lamb, one lamb, yeah?
Next up is Tom Aikens,
the youngest chef ever to earn two Michelin stars.
He earned a reputation not only for subtle and intense cuisine,
but also for being a real bad boy in the kitchen.
The foie gras garnish, please.
At the age of 26, when I was running Pied a Terre, I was a complete loon.
Joe! Can I have the (BLEEP) foie gras garnish?
I'd just bottle everything up and then suddenly go mad
over someone cooking a bit of meat. Now I just go,
"OK, we'll just put another one on."
Hopefully you'll learn not to do it again.
Tom now runs Restaurant Tom Aikens in central London,
and has an unshakeable confidence in his own ability.
No-one can beat me on a good day. No-one.
-So what have we got here?
-It's basically a quail consomme
with quail dumplings and spring vegtables.
It looks quite fine dining - you've got foie gras, truffles.
It's not necessarily what people in the community would eat.
-What was your inspiration?
-It's not what they'd normally eat.
I want to impress them, hence the foie gras and the truffles. Depth of taste will be the wow factor.
-It'll be a stunning dish.
-In the industry, we know about Tom Aikens.
Mr Competitive, runs marathons.
To say that I have a competitive nature is an understatement.
I'm aiming to win, definitely.
Tom's going for an upmarket starter with his quail consomme
with quail dumplings and spring vegetables.
But is it right for a street party?
Got to be about a sharing dish
and not just get lost in this whole Michelin star tiny vegetables,
foie gras, truffle-type way,
but something where people can ladle it out and go, "Wow, this is fantastic."
Four covers du jour, three salmon, one terrine, three beef, one plaice.
The last competitor is Phil Thompson who trained under Marco Pierre White
on his way to becoming executive chef at the Auberge du Lac in Hertfordshire
where he delivers French food with modern English twists.
I like to cook food that I like to eat.
There's some quirkiness in there.
It's all about having fun, and I think there's a bit
of my personality in every dish I do. It's honest food.
It's an approach that recently won him a Michelin star
and he's hoping that he can win the London and South East heat as well.
I'm up against a two Michelin-starred chef
and the boy that won the main course last year
so I've got my work cut out. Service!
-So what are you cooking?
-The dish I'm doing is pea veloute
with rabbit canapes. Got a lovely rabbit.
Take the livers out, make a parfait.
I'm not trying to go too far.
It's the People's Banquet so you don't want to go too cheffy.
What's your inspiration for this dish?
My dad used to breed rabbits when I was younger.
One day, he'd be playing with Thumper in the garden
and the next day he wasn't there, but the stew we had was quite nice!
And are you nervous?
Very! HE LAUGHS
Interesting. Three soups.
The battle of the "potages"!
Wish you all the best, and it's game on.
Phil's soup is a technically demanding veloute
with several side dishes.
It'll show off his skill, but Jason can see some potential pitfalls.
Phil has to be extremely careful.
A few things can go wrong with his dish.
First thing is using frozen peas, because they can go chalky.
Then we move on to his canapes, which is potentially very dangerous.
The meat can dry out in an instant. I'll be keeping a close eye on him.
The starting gun's been fired and all three chefs know
they're in for a rollercoaster ride.
OK, young Phil, how are you feeling, first day in the kitchen,
first thing going on?
Yeah, feeling good, but nervous right next to you.
Won it last year.
I think we're going to have a little fight on our hands, aren't we?
-Keep it clean, though, yeah? No low blows.
-No dirty punches!
They're all eyeing each other up, but watching over all three
is Jason, demanding first-class cooking,
and there's ample scope for comparison with three soups
-on the menu.
-That was a bit of a surprise to me,
but what I'm looking for in a soup is the foundation.
They can do all the trickery in the world to jazz it up,
but the bottom line is a soup has to taste great.
It's really important that they get this first dish on the money.
These chefs are amongst the best in Britain,
but they've been catapulted into an unfamiliar kitchen
and they're out of their comfort zone.
Nerves are starting. Trying to look and see what everyone else is doing.
But, yeah, just get my first dish out of the way and I'm sure
the hand will stop shaking!
Tom Aikens isn't shaking at all. He's as cool as a cucumber,
and his rivals can't help but notice.
Tom's got his head down like we all knew he would, working very fast,
getting his job done.
But Tom Kerridge has the advantage of having been here before
so the unflappable Mr Aikens
is probing his rival on what to expect.
Tom, what's it like being in the judges' room?
-It's terribly nerve-wracking.
-You've got a lot of contracting muscles.
Yeah, that's it! Yeah, yeah!
-They're cooking at close quarters...
-Sorry, Chef, budge up!
..and that adds to the pressure they're under.
But Tom Kerridge isn't worried about putting his rivals off.
..a bit noisy over here. I'm just minding my own business.
We all know you're here, mate!
(BLEEP), Chef, you've just stolen my pan! (BLEEP)
Thought that got off quickly!
Tom Aikens is busy making his consomme.
Quail, vegetables and herbs are mixed with egg whites
and then slowly simmered.
Tom Kerridge, who's also making a broth,
is keeping a close eye on what his rival's doing.
You can do it boiling.
So you don't bring it up slowly. There we have it.
There's veg, chicken, ice, egg white... Cools it straight down
-so you can then put it into boiling stock.
I've never seen that before, Chef. I'm so glad you're here.
Phil will be plating up first, and Jason's noticed
-that he's been a bit quiet.
-The pressure's on, feeling it.
-What's going on here?
-I got my soup ready to go.
-Happy with the colour of that?
Erm, yeah, it's... it's nice and bright, nice and light.
How do you feel coming up first?
I'll set the standard and see if the others can follow!
Phil's passion for cooking goes right back to his childhood
in Essex, where his dad was a butcher
and his mum worked as a chef.
It's always nice to come back to Dagenham, even on a...
lovely day like this(!)
The sun is always shining in Dagenham(!)
The first vehicle rolled off the Ford production line
80 years ago and most of Phil's family worked here.
My mum, my nan, my uncle,
my sister, have all graced the kitchens here.
He's arranged to meet his mum and sister Tracy in the canteen.
-Oh, you haven't had a shave!
It's all we've ever done in this family is serve people...
-..and try and make people happy with food.
Phil's ambition to cook and share food
was born in the works' canteen,
and if he makes it through to the People's Banquet,
he wants the family who nurtured his career to join him.
-I used to go.
-Oh, yeah, no, but...
I want you there.
No! Mummy's going to have to sit down and watch ya!
I couldn't stand it, I couldn't stand it!
-Get to pack...
-I've got to pull it out of the bag first!
-Don't you let me down! Don't you let me down!
Back in the kitchen, Phil's making the rabbit, shallot and herb
covering for the Scotch eggs he'll serve with his soup.
All three chefs are determined to deliver the winning starter
without a hitch.
All going to plan?
Well, so far, so good. It's a little bit hot.
I'm a little bit nervous about doing puff pastry,
but at the minute, it feels OK and looks OK.
I'll bash it in the oven in a bit and we'll keep our fingers crossed.
Tom's philosophy is to take fresh, seasonal produce
and let the ingredients speak for themselves,
and approach the cooking that goes back to his childhood.
Tom grew up on an estate in the West Country
where his mother still lives. It was in her kitchen
that he learned to cook for himself and his brother
while she was out at work.
Me and my brother ended up being what's called latchkey kids.
We used to get in at night and I'd be the person that would cook tea.
-Hey, how are you doing?
-Ooh, God, you're cold!
-How are you doing?
-I'm all right, mate.
-Good to see you. ..Hey, you!
To get ideas for his banquet menu,
Tom wants to share some cooking memories.
And do you remember this cake that you made?
-I made that cake?
-You made that cake.
I made a guide dog cake.
Did you think I'd go on from making guide dog cakes
-to being a chef?
It was a family meal out that first made Tom think of a cooking career.
The waitress took you out into the kitchen and gave you
one of those great, big chef's hats. And you kept it for a long time.
Tom's knocking up a simple supper for everyone.
Could this be a possible dish for the banquet?
and Double Gloucester cheese.
This, for me, is perfect food to share.
I've got to lift the humble burger, which is something great,
into something outstanding.
This looks good!
-You don't look convinced by that.
-I'm not a great fan of beefburgers.
Maybe I could do burgers...
-but not using beef. Yeah.
-I want more.
In the kitchen, there's a fierce sense of concentration among the three culinary giants.
Tom's frying the sweetbreads to go with his soup
while rival Tom Aikens is perfecting the next stage of his clarified quail broth.
-How's it all going?
-Good. So far, so good.
-So these are the battened-out quail breasts? And they sit inside the soup, yeah?
-And this is the clarification for the soup?
-As you can see, I've already passed quite a bit off.
-Crystal. Crystal clear.
Tom's awesome technical skills and unshakeable self-belief,
could prove unbeatable this week.
His ambition goes right back to school days.
-How are you, darling?
-Are we going in the restaurant?
-Yes, come on in.
Tom, who has an identical twin who's a chef in New York,
has been one of London's top chefs for many years.
His mum remembers the early days.
There was one occasion when you came back from school
and you said you had had the most fantastic lunch.
And I said, "What's it called?"
"Cowboy hot pot."
-Oh, is it?
-It was liver and bacon!
The trouble was, when I was cooking,
you and Robert always had to take over.
-Course you did!
He opened this restaurant in 2006
and it has something in common with the People's Banquet.
The idea of sharing dishes is at the very heart of this restaurant.
I think the enjoyment of sharing a dish or sharing a platter
is that it's always a focal point, and can be, of a conversation.
One of our sharing dishes is seven-hour-braised lamb shoulder.
It goes to the table with two plates, and you just pick at it and rip it to pieces and eat it.
Socrates, take that away, table 68, please.
Being a successful chef has never been enough for Tom.
Having run the Marathon Des Sables across the Sahara last year,
he's now in training for another strenuous adventure.
I'm running from London to Dover, swimming the Channel,
then cycling from Calais to Paris.
All for charity.
And he's planning to bring that determination to this competition.
I'll never, ever stop until I get to where I want.
Three top chefs from London and the South East are creating superb starters to share.
Phil Thomson's hoping his modern, French-style veloute of spring pea and rabbit canapes will win the day.
Tom Kerridge is pinning his hopes on an Asian inspired spring lamb broth.
And Tom Aikens is going for a classy quail consomme with quail dumplings and spring vegetables.
They're all out to persuade former champion Jason Atherton
that their dish meets the brief.
They're here to win. Their reputations are on the line.
They don't want to let down their community - they're here to show how good they are.
Atmosphere's tense. It's a tough, tough competition.
The pressure's really on in the kitchen
and they can't afford any slip-ups.
Tom Aikens is looking cool,
but Tom Kerridge has a lot of flavours to balance,
and Phil is having major issues with his rabbit liver parfait.
A few problems with my parfait.
Problems with the parfait, chef?
It's a bit too loose, but nothing I can't sort out.
Poor Phil. It's his first time. He's shaking a bit. He's extremely nervous.
And he's just going over his dish to make sure he absolutely nails it.
With the tasting looming,
he ladles his frozen pea veloute into a tureen to share,
hoping he's avoided the chalky taste Jason's worried about.
Finally, he finishes off his canapes of rabbit chops
and spinach-wrapped rabbit loin,
plus Scotch eggs made with the leg meat.
-Yeah, there's a few things, the parfait, the timing on it,
and maybe I need to blitz it a little bit longer to rise the temperature.
-So, how do we serve this? Just ladle it out?
-Yeah, the idea's just to ladle up,
and just pour it straight in, straight over the top.
Shall we go taste?
Has Phil pulled off his sophisticated veloute
and array of complex canapes?
His rivals can't wait to get stuck in.
Maybe there's too much going on for a banquet? Looks like it would be a lot of work.
Yeah, it does, doesn't it?
But it's Jason's opinion that counts.
Happy with the texture of the soup?
Think texture's there. Um...
-Nice consistency of the soup.
-You wouldn't be unhappy with that.
-Shall we try the parfait?
Happy with the amount of alcohol in that?
You think the liver's come through enough?
Yeah, maybe just get it done a little bit sooner.
Give it time to firm up.
-It does, doesn't it?
Texture - is that a little bit dry?
Yeah, it's not exactly how I wanted it. But I expected a few hiccups.
-I think that's the weakest thing on the dish.
-I think so.
-Do you think you have given this your best shot?
-It's 90% there.
I know where I've gone wrong, I know what I have can improve if I get a second crack at it.
If I get a low score, you know, it's what I'm expecting.
I've just got to pick up meself and go again.
Tom Kerridge is up next, and his rustic pastry topping needs to be perfect.
How did that look for you, Tom, in there?
A little flat.
I could have done with it being a bit more of it Dome-esque thing growing on the top.
As it heats up, the steam creates the lift in the puff pastry
and starts to cook.
I think he opened the oven too early so he didn't get that dome.
How are we going, Tom?
Yeah, so far so good. We're almost ready to start plating up.
Puff pastry OK?
Puff pastry's all right, fingers crossed it'll all come together.
Tom's not admitting any weakness to Jason,
and now it's time for him to plate up.
The raw lamb fillets go into bowls.
They'll be cooked by the soup when it's ladled on by the guests.
But the soup's sealed in by the puff pastry top,
so he can't judge its heat. It's a big gamble.
That's a big bowl of soup, chef.
It's a big bowl of soup for sharing, chef.
Flavours - the flavours I know are there.
In you go. Steam, OK. OK.
-There we go, stick that on the side.
Will Tom's imaginative fusion of Asian and English influences be a hit with Jason?
Or, will his flat puff pastry let him down?
You happy with the seasoning of that?
That could do, actually, with a touch more salt.
Sweetbreads are nice, nice and crispy. Got a really nice flavour.
He got them nice and crispy to start with, so the stock doesn't make 'em too soggy.
-This is the lamb what's been cooked by the broth, right?
That's worked out how it's supposed to work out?
I think that lamb's still pink.
Just a little hint of chilli coming through.
Fairly easy for service I think, to be honest.
I think they'll enjoy that.
Do you think this dish has the wow factor, that spectacle?
It's not covered in fireworks but it's something that's very interesting,
it is something, from my point of view, works very well.
Centrepiece, fireworks, no, but a really good start to a lovely banquet.
I'd be happy with a good score with that.
Last to face Jason, is Tom Aikens.
Can he outcook his rivals?
Now you've seen the two dishes, you must be a little bit nervous, surely?
In terms of the other two soups,
I've definitely got a chance of winning, that's for sure.
I'm confident as these two are.
If we weren't, we wouldn't be here, would we?
Fighting talk, but as Tom poaches his quail breast and dumplings,
and blanches his finely cut veg, has he hit the brief?
They look pretty.
When I was younger, I didn't know what a consomme was.
I'd like to have grown up in his household.
Every dish has something that can go wrong, there's always potential.
It'll be interesting, won't it?
Perfectionist, Tom, is determined not to mess up now.
The foie gras-stuffed quail and cabbage
is sliced and arranged in individual bowls,
along with the poached breast, sliced truffles and vegetables.
Finally, the consomme and dumplings go into a big dish to share.
-All gone to plan?
-How do we serve this? Do we just ladle it in?
There's a couple of dumplings each and a bit of the quail,
confit which you just ladle over and tuck in.
Tom's gone for broke with this luxurious dish
but is a refined consomme the right way to kick-off a people's banquet?
Inspiration for this, Tom?
I wanted to show the technical side of it, my skills as a chef,
so I de-structured the quail.
I think I'm going to have to eat this with a knife and fork
for the breast and stuff.
It's got lots of lovely elements going on. Very earthy.
I've got to get knives and forks for the next bit, chef.
Nice piece of truffle there. We're not being skinflint there.
We're serving the community and they deserve a bit of luxury.
-Are you happy with the seasoning?
-It could have done with a bit more salt.
It's a beautiful dish. There's a lot going on.
-There's a lot of different cooking elements to get right.
My only concern is, because you've got so many different elements of cooking in here,
that is something that could go wrong in that.
To send 100 of those at once at a banquet...
Rather him than me, mate!
On the cooking side, I was very happy.
I may have needed a little more salt but other than that,
I don't think there was anything wrong with the dish at all.
Jason's thinking deeply about his verdict.
Which of these starters would make a stunning contribution
by London and the South East to the banquet?
The wait seems endless in the kitchen.
This is the part that is the most horrible.
I think I've done enough to get a good mid-range score.
If I score seven, I'd be happy.
I'm not going to say I want a seven or eight, I'm a realist.
I'd like to see a potential eight or nine for the dish, definitely.
We'll start with you, Phil. Your veloute of peas with rabbit canapes.
The rabbit was overcooked a little, as you know, on the loin.
On your rack, it was undercooked a little bit.
But the presentation of the dish, I thought, was fantastic.
Your spring lamb broth wasn't quite as extravagant
as Tom Aikens' or Phil's dish.
But that is one of the tastiest dishes I've eaten for a very long time.
Your quail consomme with quail dumplings,
as soon as I looked at it, it was a restaurant dish, no two ways about it.
I couldn't really work out in my own mind
if I was meant to start with a knife and fork and finish with a spoon.
But the crystal cleanness of the flavours
and the consomme, was second to none.
Outstanding dish. But, it all comes down to points.
Phil, for your veloute of spring peas, rabbit canapes...
..I'm going to give you...
..seven out of ten.
Tom Kerridge, for your spring lamb broth...
..I'm giving you...
..nine out of ten.
That dish was knockout.
Tom Aikens, for your quail consomme with quail dumplings...
..I'm giving you...
..eight out of ten.
Very good scores boys, it was very high standard. Thank you.
-Well done, Paul.
-Good start, good start.
So, Tom Kerridge has leapt into the lead with a champion nine points.
Tom Aikens, more than respectable, eight, leaves him in second
and despite a strong seven,
Phil Thompson's now bringing up the rear.
One from behind second place is the way I've got to look at it.
Hopefully I get a good score and reel them in.
I'd have taken a seven, so two points more is brilliant.
I want to be in the top place. I want to be number one in the driving seat, full steam ahead.
I want to win it.
In tomorrow's fish course, Tom Aikens and Phil
have every intention of cutting Tom Kerridge down to size.
He can't afford to put a foot wrong.
I've taken a big risk again.
I could choose any fish I wanted, I chose one that I can't eat.
-Do you want us to taste it?
-I'd love for you to taste it.
-We wouldn't sabotage it, would we, Phil?
-Wouldn't dream of it.
It's heating up and I'm getting excited.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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This week chefs Tom Kerridge, Phil Thompson and Tom Aikens from London and the south east are battling it out. Former Great British Menu champion Jason Atherton will decide who goes through to the final judgement on Friday. Their starters are spring lamb broth; veloute of spring pea and rabbit canapes; quail consomme with quail dumplings and spring vegetables.