But can a Liverpool chef bring the trophy home again this year?

THINGS are getting hot in the kitchen. Promising more tension than the waistband on my "working from home" jogger pants, BBC television’s Great British Menu returns in February with a new line-up of judges including Liverpool’s very own spice girl, Nisha Katona.

These people pour their hearts into what they do and it's just a complete privilege to taste that

The former barrister turned celebrity chef needs little introduction. But you’re here now, so listen up.

Born in Ormskirk - daughter to two doctors who moved to the UK from India in the 1960s - Nisha opened her first Mowgli restaurant on Liverpool’s Bold Street in 2014 and now owns 13 branches across the UK, with a further four due to open in 2022.

Great British Menu Season 17 2022 Nisha Katona
Nisha Katona Image: BBC

In 2019, she was appointed as an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to the food industry. The Mowgli megastar has written many books on Indian cuisine and is already a regular fixture on our TV screens, but this will be the first time that Nisha has taken a seat at the judging table of BBC Two’s most ferocious cooking competition.

Katona will be joined on the Great British Menu critics’ panel by award-winning chef, Tom Kerridge, and comedian and podcaster, Ed Gamble. Returning as host, Andi Oliver is on hand to encourage and support the 32 chefs representing eight different regions or nations to deliver their best for the competition.

Great British Menu Season 17 2022 Nisha Katona Tom Kerridge
Ed Gamble, Nisha Katona and Tom Kerridge Image: BBC

For the 17th series of Great British Menu, this year’s theme celebrates 100 years of Great British Broadcasting. Some of the most talented and skilled chefs from across the UK will be tasked with cooking mouth-watering dishes which celebrate broadcasting across the decades. 

Extraordinary dishes will be created that pay homage to nostalgic comedies and entertainment, as well as landmark broadcast moments, like Winston Churchill’s famous speech broadcasting to the nation that "We are at War" with Germany, and the 1969 Moon landing. 

The competing chefs are all trying to win the honour of representing their nation or region during the finals episodes and then competing for the ultimate accolade, that of cooking a dish at a once in a lifetime banquet at Alexandra Palace, in North London.

Great British Menu Oliver Peyton Presenting Winner Dan Mc George With The Trophy
Daniel McGeorge, 2021 Great British Menu winner Image: BBC

Nisha said: "What's fantastic about the Great British Menu is it's not just a competition about food. It is about the very best chefs in the country, creating not just extraordinary dishes, but these real flights of fantasy. 

"I know that having watched it in the past, these people pour their hearts into what they do and it's just a complete privilege to taste that."

Last year’s Great British Menu was won by Liverpool's Dan McGeorge, head chef at Rothay Manor in Ambleside. Dan impressed the judges with his dessert, “Give A Dog A Bone” inspired by the Wallasey-founded charity Guide Dogs.

Caroline Martins Stevie Lamb Lisa Goodwin Allen Dave Critchley Sam Lomas Bbcoptomen Television Ashleigh Brown
This year's North West chefs - Caroline Martins, Stevie Lamb, Dave Critchley, and Sam Lomas, with judge Lisa Goodwin Allen Image: BBC/Optomen Television/Ashleigh Brown

A new season of Great British Menu is excitement enough to get our blender humming. But as well as the addition of Nisha, it's been announced that Liverpudlian chef Dave Critchley is returning for another bite of the apple. 

Dave represents the North West alongside Sam Lomas from Macclesfield, a former apprentice at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage and head chef at Glebe House in Devon; Lancashire lad Stevie Lamb, head chef at the 4AA rosette hotel The Orangery in Darlington; and Brazilian-born Caroline Martins, who lives in Manchester and runs Brazilian British fusion cookery pop-ups.

Dave Critchley Andi Oliver Fish Course Bbcoptomen Television Ashleigh Brown2
Dave Critchley with Great British Menu host, Andi Oliver Image: BBC/Optomen Television/Ashleigh Brown

Dave Critchley ran some of Liverpool’s and the North West’s flagship restaurants including Alma de Cuba, The Noble House with its modern American menu, Australasia (Manchester) and became executive head chef at The London Carriage Works and Hope Street Hotel, where he earnt two AA rosettes and held them for four years.

In 2019, Dave took a different direction and was selected as the last ever apprentice of a world-famous Chinese chef Master Wu, spending time in China exploring traditional Chinese cookery. He is now the executive chef of Liverpool’s Lu Ban, a high-end Chinese restaurant inspired by the region of Tianjin. 

Dave's eclectic menu on GBM celebrates his personal love for his home city’s broadcasting legends.

Great British Menu starts on Tuesday 1 February at 8pm on BBC Two.

The North West round will be broadcast on 8, 9, and 10 February.

*Article last updated 1 February 2022*

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