This week, it is the heats for the hotly contested north west region. Competing for a place on the banquet menu are two chefs returning to the competition for a second time, plus a supremely talented newcomer. Liam Simpson, who co-owns a high-end gastropub near Henley-on-Thames, is hoping to make it all the way after being knocked out in the heats during the 2018 competition. Adam Reid, chef-patron of a top hotel restaurant in Manchester, is aiming to get to the banquet for a second time, after his dessert made it in 2017. But they are facing tough competition from ambitious newcomer Hrishikesh Desai – a Michelin-starred executive chef at a luxury hotel in the Lake District.
The chefs begin by cooking their starters for a surprise veteran chef of the competition. Liam’s dish Banging Beets takes inspiration from Liverpool’s legendary Cream nightclub – the place to be in Britain’s 90s clubbing scene – and sees him transform the humble beetroot into a sophisticated dish he hopes is worthy of serving at the banquet. Adam’s musical inspiration is much broader with From the Beatles to Oasis – a refined take on corned beef hash, which he says northern musicians will have eaten through the decades. Meanwhile, Hrishikesh is hoping the luxurious ingredients of scallop, saffron and caviar will give him victory with his tribute to Great British musical greats, Old is Gold.
With no time to rest, the chefs move on to produce equally brilliant fish courses. Liam aims to impress with a simple mackerel dish inspired by a song he used to listen to with his husband while fishing, Adam pays homage to Northern Soul music with a hearty dish featuring cod and a rich butter sauce, while Hrishikesh is upping the ante with a complex salmon curry, inspired by the time he taught Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason how to cook Indian food. Show less