This year, Tom Westy takes on the Great British Menu, cooking and competing through heats in the London & South East region to earn the right to cook at an exquisite banquet, held at – Abbie Road Studios. With Phil Howard. judging the dishes being served – They will be honouring the stars and heroes of the music industry from the 60’s to the present day.
Tom, usually known as ‘Westy’ is the Head Chef at Lucknam Park Hotels informal brasserie. He enjoys cooking simple, flavoursome food with a twist.
We spoke to Chef Tom to find out more about her experience on the BBC2 show…
What was the reason in taking part on the Great British Menu?
My reason for taking part in GBM was to try and get a dish from Wales to the banquet. It was also an honour to take part after watching the program since I was 14.
Is there a way to handle the criticism from the judges?
Criticism is a day to day thing that happens in the life of a chef, it’s beneficial to keep you grounded and help you improve as a chef and improve your dishes. Especially when its coming from a veteran chef. However you need to weigh up whether sticking to your guns on a practised dish is safer than changing elements last minute.
What is the atmosphere like in the kitchen cooking alongside two other chefs?
The atmosphere in the kitchen cooking along 2 other chefs is brilliant, there’s always banter and a few light hearted insults, it’s also great to see what the two other chefs are cooking and how they might have interoperated the brief differently to yourself.
This year’s theme is celebrating Britains extraordinary contribution to pop music – What is your approach to the imagination & creation to your dishes?
My approach to the theme this year was to look at music and memories from my childhood and try and link them into my dishes.
What does the theme mean to you and what would it meant for you to cook at the banquet?
The theme meant a lot to me, music is a massive part of my life, I always think music reminds you of times in your life when you were happy, this has an amazing link to food. If I had managed to get to the banquet it would have been an absolute honour to cook it for the guests attending.
What is your greatest accomplishment during your time on the Great British Menu so far?
I would say my greatest accomplishment on GBM would have to be the smile of all of the judges, Phil Howards face when they smashed my dessert “God Save The Queen”, I think food should be something that makes you smile.
Were there any down sides during your time on the Great British Menu?
I wouldn’t say there were any downsides to my time on the Great British Menu, I would say it was a stressful and hard few months trying to juggle running a kitchen, designing and practicing dishes and trying to have a life at the same time.
Would you take part again if the opportunity was to come around & would there be anything you would change?
I would defiantly take part again if the chance came around. Being on the Great British Menu was an amazing experience, getting to meet the other chefs and see how the show was filmed blew me away. If I was to take part again I would really look at each dish and think to myself, can I really see this dish at the banquet.