Northern Ireland Fish Great British Menu


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Northern Ireland Fish

Northern Ireland chefs Brian McCann, Chris Bell and Chris Fearon prepare fish dishes including baked turbot, preserved salmon and smoked wild sea trout.


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The competition continues on Great British Menu

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and this week, three of Northern Ireland's finest chefs, Chris Fearon, Chris Bell and Brian McCann,

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are fighting for the chance to cook at the ultimate street party.

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In the starters round, new boy Chris Fearon stormed into the lead.

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I didn't expect that at all.

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Leaving former boss Brian trailing behind.

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I'm downbeat. I just feel I let myself down.

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Scoring them all week is veteran Richard Corrigan.

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There is so much to fight for here. It's hard enough to watch, never mind compete.

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Today, it's the fish course and the dishes coming to blows for a place at the People's Banquet

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are whole baked turbot, salmon three ways

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and hot-smoked trout.

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It could be a winner, so I'll go in and nail it.

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This year's competitors are out to create stunning sharing platters,

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dishes that will cause a stir at our lavish street party, the People's Banquet.

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It's been a real challenge. I think there could be big names red-faced this year.

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Each chef has been seeking out local heroes from their community who work tirelessly,

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bringing people together through food.

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-Tell me what you think.

-Great party food. Very moreish.

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And success in this competition is more personal than ever

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as the winning chefs get the chance to invite the people they've met to the banquet.

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-I'd like you to come.

-That would be fantastic.

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It would be amazing to get my final dish on the banquet and represent

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the people trying to bring the community together.

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Today, it's the fish course and the chefs will have to dig deep

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as it's former champion Richard Corrigan's favourite.

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I am looking for something spectacular, that taste of the sea that really feels inspiring.

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First up is risk-taker Chris Fearon, a brasserie-style chef,

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determined to prove you don't need a fine-dining background to go all the way.

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He surprised everyone with his chicken in a bag starter, a novel dish that earned him first place,

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a position he wants to hold on to today.

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I believe in this fish course. If I execute it properly, Richard should love it.

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I'll be gutted if I don't get another good score for this.

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-What is your dish?

-I'm doing like a potted salmon.

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I'm breaking it down with some herbs and cheese and a bit of fish stock.

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-I'm going to be piping it back into like a sardine tin.

-Tinned fish?

-Well, yeah.

-Miaow!

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Then I'm going to go for my version of jellied fish. It will be in a wee jar with cucumber jelly on top.

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-It's brave.

-Yeah.

-I love my fish simple, looking like fish.

-Yeah.

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-And you're going to...

-What's the difference if it's in a tin or on bread? It's just for presentation.

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Chris Fearon is hoping for top marks again

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with his playful platter of cured, jellied and tinned salmon,

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but will today's quirky theme be a step too far?

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I really want to taste things simple, beautiful. Salmon in a can? I'm just not too sure about it.

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Sounds like a supermarket dish.

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Up next is Chris Bell in second place with seven points.

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The only chef to have had a Michelin star, he aims to outclass his rivals with straightforward classics,

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a strategy he thinks will get him all the way to the final.

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I am here to try and win this and do this competition justice.

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I'm going to give it everything.

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-What have we here?

-A bit of a take on a classic.

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I'll take this trout off the bone and smoke it.

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-What have we here?

-I'll make some champ.

-Spring onions, potatoes?

-Potato cakes, like little fadge.

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I'm going to make a horseradish and watercress sauce.

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What about the menu? Food to share? Are you confident about all of this?

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Yeah. I'm going to serve the side of fish whole. It will be on almost a cake stand with a glass cloche.

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-I'm going to blow the smoke under the glass cloche.

-Oh, the great chef thing of smoke!

-Yeah.

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Chris Bell is looking to wow with hot-smoked trout with champ cakes,

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samphire and horseradish sauce,

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a cheffy dish that needs precision cooking.

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I hope Chris Bell's dish has that lightly smoked edge, still moist,

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succulent, slightly undercooked.

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Trout overcooked is just not fun!

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Finally, it's returning contender Brian McCann,

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a Belfast heavyweight determined to make it through to the judges this year.

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He came last yesterday with a disappointing four points for his overcooked glazed ham,

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a schoolboy error he can't afford to repeat today.

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What happens in this course could make or break the competition for me.

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I want to get to the final banquet.

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-Brian, what are we cooking today?

-A whole roasted turbot.

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I'm going to do like a coronation garnish, but the spice I'm going to use is ras el hanout.

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It's very aromatic with some nice herbs and lemon.

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-You overcooked the ham. Are you confident about getting this right?

-I need to get this right.

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I really need to get this right.

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I'm going to rock this dish.

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-Is this dish right for a People's Banquet?

-That is a stunning piece of fish. It is a wow factor.

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Brian thinks his show-stopping, whole baked turbot

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with coronation dressing is the perfect food to share,

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-but it's a simple dish with no room for error.

-He's under real pressure.

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Brian failed the last dish because of the overcooked ham. I hope he doesn't do the same with the fish.

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Cooking underway, all three chefs spring into action.

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They're all desperate to cook at the People's Banquet.

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And for Brian and Chris Bell, that means knocking a cocky Chris Fearon off the top spot.

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-Are you hot on my heels, trying to catch up here?

-I've got to do it today.

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-A bit of confidence in this dish.

-How about you, Brian?

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Nervous. After the first course, this is my chance. I need to get back on track.

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So there's no room for error.

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There certainly isn't as Richard is watching their every move.

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He'll be scoring each dish on taste, execution and whether it's good to share.

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Richard is a formidable fish expert, having served this course at the British Embassy banquet in Paris.

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To me, preparing and serving fish, it is best to think simple. Simple, simple, simple.

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Can the chefs come up with something to share, something to pass around, but tasting magnificent?

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But far from keeping it simple, Chris Fearon is serving his salmon in three elaborate ways,

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a far cry from the straightforward food he serves at his restaurant.

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-So how many types of salmon are you doing again, Chris? About six?

-No, just three.

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And two different types of bread.

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It's something Chris Bell expects from a fancy French restaurant,

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not his less experienced rival, and he can't resist a quick dig.

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-Do you sit out in the back garden and eat an assiette of salmon all summer?

-I do. And caviar.

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And foie gras...sandwiches.

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Brian was once Chris Fearon's boss, so knows what he is capable of

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and is keeping a close eye on him.

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He is serving roast turbot on the bone, a simple dish, but with its own pitfalls.

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Turbot is notoriously difficult to cook perfect.

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If he leaves it too long in the oven, it will be wrecked, a disaster.

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Can he really put that discipline into getting that cooked right? He failed with the ham.

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Chris Bell is preparing a whole fish too - rainbow trout.

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He's de-boning it before it goes to the table, a meticulous job,

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typical of his Michelin star cooking

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and one Brian is hoping he might slip up on.

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When a fish is off the bone, you expect to have no bones. There's no room for error.

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And bones aren't Chris Bell's only potential hazard.

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He will hot-smoke his trout over woodchips later,

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an ambitious technique that has Richard worried.

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Chris Bell needs to be really careful. Over-smoked trout is just not nice. It's not appealing.

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And Chris Bell's methods aren't the only ones to have caught Richard's eye.

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Chris Fearon is making soda bread to go with smoked, tinned

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and jellied salmon and is cooking his fish in a unique way.

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-First time I've seen J-Cloth used as a little poaching...

-Looks like a Christmas cracker over there.

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It's not just his cooking techniques being called into question. His tin can presentation is under fire too.

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What about them wee cans there? They look a bit sharp.

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Yeah, Chris, I've got a big "caution" sign on it.

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-Aye?

-Yeah. "Handle with care."

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Excellent.

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He's determined to put everything into a tin.

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I really hope I can taste the fish. I really hope I can just say, "Oh, that's salmon."

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Not just some soft salmon paste.

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But Chris Fearon doesn't think he has anything to lose.

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He knows he's the underdog, so he's going all out with a high risk strategy,

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creating quirky, interactive dishes that sum up what he thinks eating is all about.

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It's like drinking. It's better drinking with people. Eating with people is far...

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It's more fun, more theatre. Nice conversation. It's brilliant.

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The challenge for each of the chefs this year

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has been to create stunning sharing platters for the People's Banquet,

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a magnificent street party celebrating the power of food to unite communities.

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Chris Fearon travelled to Kilkeel

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in County Down, home to the largest fishing fleet in Northern Ireland,

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to meet the driving force behind Mourne Cookery School,

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a fantastic new community project.

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This cookery school that I'm going to today was set up to give something back to the community.

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They're offering education to people that maybe can't cook properly.

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We've got some fabulous fish here today. We have a beautiful hake...

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Local hero Pamela Houston is on a mission to teach people

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how to cook and revive the fishing community,

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something close to Chris's heart, being the son of a fisherman.

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Times are tough and this is very much a project to reinvigorate the local community,

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to say, "Be proud of your heritage, be proud of the fish that we have

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"and the great seafood." It's for the local people.

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It's proving a hit with everyone in the community

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from the fishermen's wives to first-time cooks.

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I know what it's like to bring up two girls on a low income,

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so the like of this today is very good, like.

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-You like fish?

-I love fish. But I'm not good at cooking it. That's why I'm here.

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How are you getting on, boys? Still got all your fingers?

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-I'm nervous.

-What are you nervous about? It's only a fish.

-I know!

-Don't let the fish get to you.

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Inspired, Chris is keen to find out what these newly converted fish fans make of his potted salmon.

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The theme is food to share, bringing people together like the old street parties,

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and make a celebration out of it all.

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After we get this done, I need you guys to give me a bit of feedback, an honest opinion on it.

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Time for the moment of truth. Will they think Chris's fish course is the perfect food to share?

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Be honest with me and tell me what you think.

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-It's lovely.

-It is gorgeous.

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-First time I've had salmon. Lovely.

-Great party food. Very moreish.

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That is high praise all round and Chris has a surprise up his sleeve in return -

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an invite to the People's Banquet, should he win.

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-I'd like you to come.

-Thank you very much. That would be fantastic.

-Fingers crossed.

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-You've got the whole of Kilkeel behind you, Chris. All the best.

-All the best.

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-Take care.

-See you later on, all right?

-Bye!

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It gives me an incentive to really push to get to the final,

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to give something back to the community,

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to give these people an opportunity to put their feet up, let their hair down and enjoy themselves.

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It's an incentive that's driving all three chefs to get a dish on the banquet.

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It's important to reward these guys doing work within their communities.

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It's almost taken for granted sometimes. They're grafting away, doing stuff for people.

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Yeah, the banquet is a great idea, bringing the community together.

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-It's great to give something back to them, isn't it?

-Aye, definitely.

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Three chefs are busy preparing three very different fish courses,

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each hoping theirs will represent Northern Ireland at the People's Banquet.

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Chris Fearon hopes to hold on to his lead

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with his risky three ways with salmon.

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Chris Bell hopes to overtake him with a cheffy hot-smoked trout.

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And Brian is keeping it simple

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with roast turbot and coronation dressing.

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Dishing out the scores is Richard Corrigan

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whose job it is to decide which two chefs face the judges on Friday,

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a job he takes very seriously.

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I think there are some surprises here today. Some chefs will be terribly disappointed.

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When you make errors at this level of cooking, you will be punished.

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With one course under their belts and Richard's verdict looming, they're desperate to impress.

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Chris Fearon's juggling lots of different elements for his celebration of preserved salmon.

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Chris Bell's flat out frying champ cakes to serve alongside his hot smoked trout.

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And a far less stressed Brian is taking his time preparing a spicy cauliflower and almond garnish

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for his roasted whole turbot.

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-Brian, is this dish good enough to get through?

-Yeah.

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It's strong and executed perfectly.

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-Chris Bell, what about yourself?

-I think so.

-You're a busy bee, a busy beaver here.

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It's too simple a dish to get wrong. Every element's got to be bang on.

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Or...forget it.

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Chefs, the brief of the Great British Menu, is it a difficult brief to fulfil?

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-It took me three weeks to get my head around it. Really hard.

-Brian?

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Completely out of my comfort zone. I went back to experiences I'd had.

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For me, it's a difficult brief, but a rewarding one if you get the dishes right.

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They're all hoping they've hit the brief with their fish courses,

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but Richard will decide whose dish is best suited to the People's Banquet and time is running out.

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Everybody wants to win. It's just crazy, everybody's pushing. Everybody wants to get there.

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No one more than Brian, who failed to get to the judges last year and is currently in last place.

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He's hoping to score highly with a simple roast turbot.

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He's taking a risk by flavouring it with Ras el Hanout, a spice mix that might not be to every taste.

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It's got the wow factor. Everybody seems to love it.

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Your Ras el Hanout...

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My kid loves it. He's four. It's not too strong.

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-It doesn't lose the turbot?

-No. It stands up to it.

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He really needs to pull the cat from the bag for this dish

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because he needs a very high mark to stay in it.

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Across the kitchen, Chris Fearon's under a different sort of pressure.

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-Two more minutes.

-He's juggling three complicated salmon dishes in a bid to impress.

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And making two different types of bread, every element needs to be perfect.

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Even once-Michelin-starred Chris Bell is feeling the heat.

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Can I get some more smoke in there?

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He's blanched some samphire and is about to smoke his trout,

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a risky cooking method that has veteran Richard worried.

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-It won't need a lot of smoking?

-No.

-You've done it before?

-Yes.

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There is a balance in getting it just perfect or tasting shocking.

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-This fish today,

-BLEEP,

-it's the main part of the dish. If it's wrong, why bother serving it?

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That's why everybody's on edge.

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Chris Bell's trout is first to go under the knife. He's desperate to cook at the People's Banquet

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and with no room for error is feeling the pressure. He gets his potato cakes in to fry.

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3-5 minutes on the fish.

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Time up and he arranges his champ potato cakes in a serving dish,

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-tips his blanched samphire onto a cake stand...

-Got it, got it.

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-..and under Richard's watchful eye dishes up his horseradish and watercress sauce.

-Let's go.

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And last, but not least, the hot smoked trout,

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shrouded in a cloud of dramatic smoke.

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-Happy with that cooking of the fish?

-I am happy with that. It's moist.

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It's pulling apart absolutely perfect for me.

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There's not a hint of dryness in that fish.

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-Well, it's time to taste.

-Let's go.

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It's certainly a feast for the eyes, but will Richard think it's the perfect sharing dish?

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Wow. I think it looks lovely. Get a sniff of that smoke.

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His rivals seem to like it, but it's Richard Chris needs to impress.

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-Have you got the brief on the sharing part right?

-I think I have. Someone has to get up, lift that off,

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probably pass that around. People will want to smell it.

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-Is it smoked enough?

-Yeah.

-Think about it.

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The smoke is very subtle.

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In fact, I'm picking more smoke up off the samphire and the emulsion

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than I am the actual fish.

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I HATE saying this to you

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because you're going to kick yourself! I just got a bone in a piece of fish.

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-Schoolboy error.

-At the level of the Great British Menu, you do not expect that.

-No, you don't.

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There's a few bones there.

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It's a wee bit soggy and a wee bit restaurant-y.

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And that bone could be Chris's undoing.

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I think Richard liked that until we found that bone. Schoolboy error. I'm gutted.

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Richard won't be revealing what he thinks until he's tried all three dishes.

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Brian's up next. He knows he has to deliver today or risk going home on Thursday

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so he's letting his turbot do the talking,

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serving it with a spinach and fennel salad and spicy coronation garnish.

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How long, Brian?

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One minute. One minute.

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-Happy?

-Er...

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Focused, Richard.

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Time up, he gently scrapes off the turbot's skin, brushes on a spicy vinaigrette

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and gets it onto a serving platter

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before dressing it with his cauliflower and almond coronation garnish.

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He's thought about its presentation, but is it perfectly cooked?

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You're a bit late.

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I need to get it right. I can go out if it's not right.

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If I don't get a good score, I'm home again. It's not good enough.

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I'm going to take a little bit of this garnish now. To the tasting room. Come on.

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So will Brian's whole roast turbot set him back on course?

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-Do you think it's a good sharing dish?

-People don't see this stuff. A whole turbot?

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They start filleting, a smaller piece, a little bit of salad.

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Yes!

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That is stunning.

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It looks the part, it smells great. I think to share it's absolutely perfect.

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High praise from the opposition, but is his coronation garnish a step too far?

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-Cauliflower and turbot?

-A stunner.

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-Curry and turbot?

-Winner.

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-Raisins and turbot?

-Stunning.

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-Are you sure?

-With curry? Unquestionably.

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I get it, the coronation, but I don't think it packs a punch of coronation for me.

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Is it too subtle?

0:21:550:21:57

-And what about the Ras el Hanout?

-Could you have put more spice in?

-It's aromatic,

0:21:570:22:03

light. That's why I chose that spice. It's got fruit in it.

0:22:030:22:07

- A beautiful piece of fish. - Stunning.

0:22:070:22:10

-I want to get this sort of food on the banquet. It means everything to me.

-But is it good enough, Brian?

0:22:130:22:19

Yes.

0:22:190:22:20

I really think that last course has given me a glimmer of hope.

0:22:200:22:24

I want to get back into the competition. I hope this will do it.

0:22:240:22:28

Last, but not least, Chris Fearon. He's making a caviar-like cucumber jelly to dress his jellied salmon,

0:22:280:22:36

one of three salmon elements he's attempting.

0:22:360:22:40

Should have just poached a bit of fish. Less is more.

0:22:400:22:44

Ssh! You're going to put me off.

0:22:440:22:47

Joker in the pack Chris Fearon knows he's expected to be the underdog, so he's determined to show his skill.

0:22:470:22:54

But has he bitten off more than he can chew?

0:22:540:22:58

When the chef is singing, you're either mad or you feel very confident.

0:22:580:23:03

-I'm just happy, Chef.

-He's brought another quirky prop,

0:23:030:23:08

this time a slate chalked up to resemble a specials board.

0:23:080:23:12

Not forgetting his recycled sardine tin, which Richard's not sure about.

0:23:120:23:17

-How long?

-Two minutes, Chef.

-He quickly stacks up smoked salmon and potato bread,

0:23:170:23:24

the last of his three ways with preserved salmon, and gets them up to the pass.

0:23:240:23:30

-So, Chris, what have we here?

-This is my celebration of preserved salmon.

0:23:340:23:40

-OK, let's take one of those.

-Yeah.

-A little bit of soda bread?

-Yes, a little bit.

0:23:400:23:46

OK, for the leprechaun family. Yeah, good.

0:23:460:23:49

And your potted salmon on top. There's more there if you want.

0:23:490:23:54

OK, let's go to the tasting room.

0:23:550:23:57

It's certainly easy to share, but will Richard think it's good enough for the People's Banquet?

0:23:570:24:03

-Is there a wow factor? Come on.

-I do like the presentation

0:24:030:24:07

and there's sharing involved, passing that tin around.

0:24:070:24:11

Is it good enough?

0:24:110:24:14

Is it right for a banquet? Is everybody going to get it?

0:24:140:24:18

I love the concept of it.

0:24:180:24:20

-Are you happy with this potted salmon on bread?

-I love it.

0:24:200:24:25

-I love soda bread with it.

-You got carried away with the cucumber, did you?

-The salmon was quite salty.

0:24:250:24:33

It's there, but I know what you mean. It could be more pungent.

0:24:340:24:39

I can't pick up cucumber. I can see it.

0:24:390:24:42

He's put a lot of effort into this, but he's bitten off more than he can chew to cook this in the time.

0:24:420:24:50

Will Chris Fearon's high-risk strategy pay off again?

0:24:500:24:55

I'm nervous to hear the scores. We're almost halfway through and somebody has to go home soon.

0:24:550:25:02

With all three dishes tried and tested, there's nothing they can do except await Richard's verdict.

0:25:020:25:10

If I get another bad score, I'm home. I don't want to go home.

0:25:100:25:14

Only the two highest-scoring chefs will face the judges on Friday.

0:25:140:25:18

Which two is down to Richard whose job it is to mark the dishes out of 10.

0:25:180:25:24

-Hello, chefs.

-Hi, Richard.

-How are you all feeling?

-Apprehensive.

0:25:260:25:31

I'll start with Chris Bell.

0:25:310:25:33

Some very accomplished cooking, but I had two fundamental problems.

0:25:350:25:40

-That a chef of your calibre left the bones in the fish, it shouldn't have happened.

-Never.

0:25:420:25:48

And the smoking process just didn't do it exactly how it said on the tin.

0:25:490:25:55

Brian,

0:25:570:25:59

potentially a brilliant dish.

0:25:590:26:01

It certainly needed more spicing. I'd get a little bit more flavour into that sauce.

0:26:010:26:07

But beautifully cooked.

0:26:090:26:11

Chris Fearon...

0:26:130:26:15

The humour's certainly there in the presentation,

0:26:170:26:22

but it was seriously overworked.

0:26:220:26:25

The potted salmon should be chilled.

0:26:250:26:27

And serving it in a sardine tin...

0:26:270:26:30

-Maybe that was a bit of humour too far.

-Time to find out which chef has reeled in top marks today.

0:26:320:26:39

Chris Bell...

0:26:490:26:51

even with the problems, I've given you a generous six.

0:26:510:26:55

Brian McCann...

0:26:580:27:01

I've given you an eight.

0:27:030:27:05

And Chris Fearon...

0:27:100:27:12

I've given you a lowly four.

0:27:150:27:18

OK.

0:27:190:27:21

It's fair.

0:27:220:27:24

It's tough.

0:27:240:27:26

But clearly you're all neck and neck. It's all to cook for.

0:27:260:27:30

Have a good night's sleep and some great cooking tomorrow.

0:27:300:27:35

-OK, thanks.

-Well done, Brian.

0:27:350:27:37

-Well done.

-You, too.

0:27:370:27:40

So after Day Two, it's all change at the top.

0:27:400:27:44

Chris Bell is first with an overall score of 13

0:27:440:27:48

and just one point separating him from Brian and Chris Fearon on 12.

0:27:480:27:53

After the fish course, I am ecstatic. I am back in the game.

0:27:530:27:57

All to play for. Onwards and upwards.

0:27:570:28:00

I'm a little bit gutted. I didn't think I'd get as low a mark as that.

0:28:000:28:05

But, you know, I'm going to have to pull something out of the bag.

0:28:050:28:10

I'm certainly in no way running away with it, but one strong performance would put me in the driving seat.

0:28:100:28:18

Tomorrow the fight continues with the main course.

0:28:180:28:23

A lot of spectacle, but no sauce.

0:28:230:28:26

-With one point in it, the gloves are off.

-I have to be precise.

0:28:260:28:30

Tomorrow's going to be so important.

0:28:310:28:34

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011

0:28:430:28:46

Email [email protected]

0:28:480:28:50

Great British Menu continues, and the competition is fiercer than ever as the nation's top chefs are being challenged to cook for the ultimate street party, The People's Banquet. The chefs are battling to create spectacular sharing platters, dishes that will get everyone talking, proving that food has the power to bring us all together. If they win, their dishes will be paraded down the ancient cobbled streets of London's Leadenhall Market and served at a magnificent street party: a banquet for the people and inspired by the people.

Each week three chefs battle it out in the kitchen for a chance to cook at the banquet, and a veteran of the competition tastes and scores their dishes every day. The pressure is on, as only two chefs can make it through to cook for the Great British Menu judges at the end of the week, and one will be going home on Thursday.

The chefs from the Northern Ireland - Chris Fearon, Chris Bell and Brian McCann - pull out all the stops with their fish dishes: baked turbot with coronation garnish, a celebration of preserved salmon, plus tinned, cured, jellied and hot smoked wild sea trout, watercress and horseradish.