Announced yesterday (4 March) via Great British Chefs, the series will mark 150 years since the death of the author Charles Dickens, with the theme celebrating ‘Britain’s Success in Children’s Literature’.
A total of 32 chefs will take part in the competition – including Sally Abé, Steve Groves, Niall Keating, and Ruth Hansom – with eight regional heats set to take place. Those who manage to make it through to the final will face off for a chance to cook at the Great British Menu banquet at the end of the series.
Located in Exeter College, Oxford, the city that inspired Phillip Pullman, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and Lewis Carroll, the banquet will feature the very best dishes from across the series and see celebrity judges and authors vote on their favourite dish, allowing one chef to be crowned champion of champions.
In a shakeup of the format, four chefs will compete in each of the regional heats this year instead of the usual three, with each chef tasked to create imaginative dishes that evoke some of their favoured youthful stories.
More courses will also be added, with each chef asked to create an amuse bouche and a pre-dessert palate cleanser, in addition to the usual starter, fish course, main, and dessert.
And during each heat, the chef with the lowest score after presenting their starter and fish course to returning judges Andi Oliver, Oliver Peyton CBE and Matthew Fort, will be sent home, without a chance to prepare their main and dessert.
Presented (for the first time) by comedian Susan Calman and beginning on 18 March, series 15 of Great British Menu will run for nine weeks, with hour-long episodes every Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a half-hour regional final every Friday that will also feature a guest judge.
A series of veteran chef judges including Tom Aikens, Angela Hartnett, Paul Ainsworth and Tom Brown, will also appear during the course of the series.
The chefs competing by region in Great British Menu 2020 are:
London and South East
Steve Groves, Roux at Parliament Square, London
Kerth Gumbs, Ormer Mayfair, London
Karl O’Dell, Texture, London
Ivan Tisdall-Downes, Native, London
Friday guest judge: Konnie Huq, Blue Peter Presenter & Children’s Author of ‘Cookie and the Most Annoying Book in the World’ series
Sally Abé, The Harwood Arms, London
Niall Keating, Whatley Manor, Cotswolds
Alex Claridge, The Wilderness, Birmingham
Dom Robinson, The Blackbird, Berkshire
Friday guest judge: Charlie Higson, Children’s Author of ‘Young Bond’ series
Hrishikesh Desai, Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, Cumbria
Tom Barnes, Rogan and Co, Cumbria;
George Farrugia, Fenchurch Restaurant at Sky Garden, London
Sam Buckley, Where The Light Gets In, Stockport
Friday guest judge: Julia Donaldson, Children’s Laureate 2011-2013 & Author of Picture Books
Alex Greene, Deanes EIPIC, Belfast
Shauna Froydenlund, Marcus, London
Paul Cunningham, Brunel's, County Down
Leigh Ferguson, Clenaghans, Moira
Friday guest judge: Cerrie Burnell, CBeebies Presenter & Children’s Author of Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella series
Georgia Sommerin, Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth
Hywel Griffith, Beach House, Gower
Tom Phillips, Restaurant Story, London
John Chantarasak, AngloThai, London
Friday guest judge: David Bradley, ‘Argus Filch’ in Harry Potter film series
Samira Effa, TRUEfoods, Yorkshire
Alex Bond, Alchemilla, Nottingham
Josh Angus, Hide Ground, London
Ruth Hansom, Pomona's, London
Friday guest judge: Jacqueline Wilson, Children’s Laureate 2005-2007 & Children’s Author of ‘Tracey Beaker’ series
Joe Baker, Number 10, Jersey
Guy Owen, St Enodoc Hotel, Cornwall
Harriet Mansell, Robin Wylde, Lyme Regis
Thomas Carr, Thomas Carr at The Olive Room, Devon
Friday guest judge: Nina Wadia, Actress and Children’s Author
Ross Bryans, Les 110 de Taillevent, London
Roberta Hall-McCarron, The Little Chartroom, Edinburgh
Amy Elles, The Harbour Café, Fife
Gordon Jones, Menu Gordon Jones, Bath
Friday guest judge: David Baddiel, Comedian & Children’s Author of ‘The Parent Agency’