This week, we saw eight chefs from across the UK battle it out in the hope of being one of four finalists to have the opportunity of cooking a dish at the banquet and ultimately be in with a chance of being crowned this year’s Champion of Champions at the sixteenth series finale of BBC Two’s Great British Menu.

Those competing included Rothay Manor’s Dan McGeorge, Stuart Collins, Roberta Hall-McCarron, Oli Marlow, Hywel Griffith, Alex Bond, Phelim O’Hagan and Jude Kereama, who all won their respective regional qualifying rounds to make it through to finals week.

As finals week progressed, we saw the eight chefs battle it out each night as they cooked a single course for the judges in the hope of securing a place at Friday’s banquet as they aimed to follow in the footsteps of culinary heavyweights including the likes of Richard Corrigan, Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton, Glynn Purnell and Tom Kerridge.

The starter was deservedly won by Alex Bond, with his dish ‘The Founding Father’ a tribute to Robert Edwards, a pioneer of IVF, with Dan McGeorge falling short with his dish. Dan then achieved a respectable mid-table place with his fish course, as Roberta Hall-McCarron won with ‘Maxwell’s Colour Wheel’, her tribute to James Clerk Maxwell.

Unfortunately, we saw Dan falter with his main course, as Oli Marlow claimed the top spot with ‘Special Delivery’, his tribute to both the creation of the world wide web and the ingenuity of those working in the hospitality industry who rose to the challenges thrown at them by the pandemic. So, with nothing to lose, we saw Dan dust himself down in his bid to make the dessert course his own. On this occasion his determination and perseverance paid off, as we saw him claim the last course at the banquet with his dessert.

‘Give A Dog A Bone’ celebrates the training of the first four guide dogs by Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond at their modest lock-up garage in Wallasey, Merseyside, in 1931. Since then Guide Dogs has transformed over 36,000 lives thanks to their dedicated staff and volunteers and the vital support of the public.

Dan’s dish featured a bone shaped milk chocolate mousse, with a miso caramel centre, sprayed in chocolate, served with a miso caramel sauce, salted caramel ice cream, honeycomb miso tuille and yuzu gel and zest.

As a result of the pandemic, the series finale was itself a little unique, as viewers tuned in to witness GBM’s first ever socially distanced outdoor banquet, held at Jodrell Bank Observatory. During which each of the finalists’ prepared, cooked and served up their respective dishes. That is unfortunately with the exception of Oli Marlow, who was forced to self-isolate in line with Covid guidelines. As a result the other three finalists stepped up to help Oli out by preparing, cooking and serving his dish.

Once the invited guests had finished dining they were asked to vote for their favourite dish, with Dan McGeorge’s pudding creation proving to be a firm favourite, resulting in him being crowned series 16’s ‘Champion of Champions.’

Commenting on his win Dan said: ‘‘I still can’t quite believe that I’ve had the opportunity to represent the North West, my hometown of Liverpool and my adopted home, the Lake District on a show I’ve followed for years. It’s been a roller coaster journey, really exciting to be involved with but also pretty challenging, especially being on camera with so much going on while you’re trying to do your job and cook food to a really high standard. Having a camera on you all the time is a very different way of working that’s for sure. To be recognised as Champion of Champions is just mind blowing, especially after having cooked alongside some really amazing chefs who’ve produced some incredible food. It hasn’t sunk in really and won’t for a bit yet, but my family, my partner and daughter are over the moon for me and that means everything.’’

Dan McGeorge

30-year-old Liverpudlian, Dan McGeorge, is new to Great British Menu, he thrives in a competitive environment, having previously been a semi-finalist twice in National Chef of the Year. After studying for a law degree, in 2011 Dan decided to attend Liverpool Community College and develop his passion for cooking.

Since then, Dan has worked in several high-profile kitchens including The Bath Priory under exec chef Sam Moody and under Ben Mounsey at modern European restaurant The Lawns at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa.

For over three years, Dan has been head chef at Rothay Manor, Ambleside, a boutique hotel and restaurant in the heart of the Lake District, and during his tenure he has earned the restaurant 3 AA Rosettes and most recently a Michelin Plate. Dan also recently achieved a 2020 Acorn Award, which recognises the brightest stars in UK hospitality under the age of thirty.

Photo credit: Optomen Television © 2020. An all3media Company.

Fine Dining in Ambleside, Lake District | Rothay Manor Ambleside