Dan McGeorge, head chef at Ambleside’s Rothay Manor, appeared on our TV screens between 05th – 07th of May, competing in the North West heats of the 2021 season of Great British Menu.

McGeorge featured as one of four chefs battling it out for a place in finals week, fellow competitors included Kirk Howarth of Plates, London, Dave Critchley of Lu Ban, Liverpool and Ashwani Rangta, of Gupshup, Altrincham.

The first two days of the programme saw the 30-year-old Liverpudlian produce six dishes, including a canape, starter, fish course, main dish, pre-dessert and a dessert. All of which were based around this year’s theme of British innovation.

Veteran judged chef Tom Aikens alongside presenter Andi Oliver oversaw proceedings in the kitchen, before eliminating chefs in two stages as the programme progressed, before going on to decide who would cook for the judges panel.

Dan and fellow chef Kirk Howarth made it through as the final two, with only points between them. Each then had the opportunity of cooking their respective menus for the esteemed panel of judges made up of food writer Matthew Fort, restaurateur Oliver Peyton, broadcaster and food creative Rachel Khoo and guest judge Wayne Hemingway MBE, designer and co-founder of fashion brand Red or Dead.

Dan‘s menu kicked off with a canape entitled ‘BBQ Not BBQ’, marking the building of the Bridgewater Canal by James Brindly, which allowed coal to be shipped across the north. The canape featured venison tartare, with a charcoal emulsion, squid ink croutons and barbecued beetroot.

His starter called ‘Doctor’s Orders’, celebrated Lucy Cradock, Liverpool’s first practising female doctor. A deconstructed take on the classic Liverpudlian dish, scouse, made with Herdwick lamb loin, black garlic, carrot tops, confit pink fir potatoes, finished off with a sauce served from a giant syringe.

His fish course called ‘Deep Blue Sea’, was a nod to early submarine designer Reverend George Garrett, whose first design sank off the coast of Rhyll. Featuring barbecued monkfish, served with cockles, kohlrabi and a silver submarine flavoured with Xo sauce, which when dropped into a dashi sauce submerged and dissolved in the process.

The main course called ‘The Amazing Adventures of Isabella Bird’, marked the achievements of this intrepid explorer, orientalist and first female member of the Royal Geographical Society. The course was made up of six Asian dishes, one from each of the countries Isabella’s visited, including Korean fried lamb sweetbreads with a sticky BBQ sauce, Japanese tempura vegetables, Vietnamese morning glory with oyster sauce, soy marinated quail eggs, stir fried lotus root and barbecued char sui pork.

Matthew Fort praised the ‘‘whirligig of flavours’’, but Oliver Peyton questioned if there are too many. Rachel Khoo strongly disagreed, saying ‘’I think it’s really exciting’’, whilst Wayne Hemmingway commented that his veggie version was ‘’right up my street’’.

Dan’s pre-dessert called ‘Deliciously Squidgy’, was a take on a British classic, his own version of the famous malt loaf invented by John Rahbek Sorensen. This featured circles of malt loaf, malted milk ice cream, a brown butter crumb, caramelised yoghurt, poached rhubarb, a rhubarb tuile and a rhubarb gel.

His final course, called ‘Give A Dog A Bone’, celebrated the training of the first four guide dogs by Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond. It 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 tuile and yuzu gel and zest.

Guest judge Wayne Hemingway commenting on Dan’s dessert, said: “I could eat it until I was sick and Oliver Peyton remarked ‘‘Lovely back story, lovely pudding’’.

After a little deliberation, the judges choose Dan as the winner to go through to finals week and represent the North West.

Commenting on his win Dan said: ‘‘I really didn’t expect to win with such strong competition, especially from Kirk. But I’m really chuffed that I did and now I’m going to push on in finals week to see if I can get a dish to the banquet and do the North West proud.’’

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.

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