Another week, another gluttonous celebration of the Women’s Institute.
Three new chefs are preparing to do battle to represent the north west in the Great British Menu banquet – but only one has tasted the competition before.
Meet the three stars chefs beginning this week, and find out where you can sample their competition-ready grub.
Ramsbottom-based Eve Townson is executive chef at The Eagle and Child, which reopened in 2011 as a pub and restaurant. As well as serving high quality traditional pub food, the venue also runs social enterprise EAT Pennines, which takes disadvantaged and unemployed 16-25 year-olds and trains them up to give them a culinary career.
Townson isn’t short of experience herself: she worked with Michelin Star chef Paul Heathcote, before pushing The Eagle and Child into the Good Food Guide, winning an Observer Food Monthly award in the process.
Chef Mark Ellis returns to the competition after appearing in last year’s D Day banquet heats. He was eliminated before the judges could taste his food in 2014, so will at least be aiming to make it into the top two this time round.
Ellis is head chef at the 1851 Restaurant at Peckforton Castle in Cheshire, serving modern British and French cuisine. Before taking over at this stately address, he worked as sous chef at Simon Radley’s Chester Grosvenor and Spa, which has held a Michelin star since 1990.
Holder of a Michelin star aged just 26, Matt Worswick from Liverpool became one of the stand-out names in British food. He’s now head chef at The Lawns restaurant in Thornton Hall, Merseyside, having joined the luxury dining establishment in November 2014. Before that, he worked with footballer Steven Gerrard at his Southport restaurant and bar The Warehouse
At The Lawns, the 27-year-old heads up a team of 21 chefs, so cooking solo in Great British Menu will be a very different challenge for the series first-timer. Although, having said his dream restaurant team would include Rick Stein on fish and Fanny Craddock working the pass, Matt’s clearly fond of a bit of TV cookery.