The team at Marcus Wareing Restaurants was absolutely thrilled for Mark when hearing the news of his success on Great British Menu 2016. He is most certainly a deserving winner and we could not be more proud.
We asked Mark to give us a detailed, personal account of his experience on Great British Menu, second time round and coming out on top…
After taking part in the 2015 series, my initial thought was never again. My intention was to hide away in the Marcus kitchen and hope that my relatively poor scores would soon be forgotten. But after encouragement from Marcus and some very persuasive producers, I once again found myself preparing for the 2016 competition.
…my initial thought was never again.
The build up to the regional heats was the toughest part. Juggling between running the Marcus kitchen with preparation for GBM is no mean feat. However, I was lucky to have a great team of sous chefs – without their support, it would not have been possible. During the months leading up to filming, it’s a 7 day a week task: practising, tweaking, visiting plate suppliers, artists and woodworkers to help with the all important presentation.
Once in the studio, a certain part of the stress is removed and there is no more you can do. You’re told where to stand, which way to look and are very much at the mercy of the production team. When the clock starts, you’re on your own. Cooking is no longer so much of the worry – the problem is the two cameramen and sound technician filming inches from your (in my case, sweaty) face. Regional heats went really well and were great fun, and working with Ronnie and Russell was superb. Russell had worked with Marcus many years ago and helped open Petrus when it relocated to the Berkeley.
Finals week was a very different experience. The filming was a little more spread out compared to the regional heats. Nevertheless, it was still exhausting – constant interviewing, cooking, tasting – it’s all very full on. But the thrill of competitive cookery is amazing (when it goes right). It’s a great opportunity to celebrate how far food in the UK has come, and working with like minded chefs from different backgrounds is something that we rarely get the chance to do.
…I simply applied the same approach as at the restaurant… Flavour first.
My approach to the menu this year was very different to the previous year. I was too caught up in the presentation and the storytelling of the dish. But this time round, I simply applied the same approach as at the restaurant… Flavour first.
Getting through to the finals was such a great opportunity to develop the dishes even further. I knew the main course was good, purely because of the quality of the veal and the story behind it. The starter was also really exciting for me and by the finals, I really felt this had a good chance and represented modern food and the culinary revolution perfectly.
Waiting for the result was a real rollercoaster, from the shortlist to bottom place and back again. I knew the rose veal was a contender but I honestly had no idea. You’re up against some of the best head chefs in the country. On hearing the result I was pretty stunned. I don’t think it really sunk in until we were standing in the House of Commons taking it all in.
…It’s a great opportunity to celebrate how far food in the UK has come…
Great British Menu 2016 was an amazing experience and such an honor to be chosen. It was made all the more special that Andrew and Angela Barraclough, the veal farmers, were able to share the experience and have their amazing product celebrated at a such a special banquet.
Head Chef, Marcus