Niall Keating named Great British Menu 2020 'Champion of Champions'

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Niall Keating named Great British Menu 2020 'Champion of Champions'

Related tags: Great british menu, Chef, Fine dining

Whatley Manor’s Niall Keating has been named the ‘Champion of Champions’ at this year’s Great British Menu banquet.

Keating, who is executive chef of two Michelin-starred country house hotel in the Cotswolds, overcame competition from Deanes Eipic chef Alex Greene and Simon Rogan protégé Tom Barnes to take the top prize with his winning fish course ‘witches of the Northern Lights’.

The literature-themed banquet, which marked 150 years since the death of Charles Dickens and aired on the BBC last Friday (15 May), saw all three chefs present dishes influenced by their favourite works of fiction.

Keating’s fish course, which was inspired by the novels of author Phillip Pullman, featured black tortellini in the shape of a witch's hat, served with a dashi broth presented in a miniature cauldron.

During a highly-contested finals week, Greene scored a double win by triumphing with both his starter and dessert dishes.

Inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Narnia​ books, his starter - ‘the potato, the onion, the cheese and the wardrobe’ - five different types of potato and a four-cheese custard, served alongside pickled onions and onion jelly; while his dessert, inspired by Oliver Jeffers' children’s book The Incredible Book Eating Boy,​ consisted of an edible ‘picture book' with a cover made from coconut parfait, ‘pages’ created from printed rice paper and coconut tuile, yuzu gel to bind the pages, coffee jelly, and chocolate ganache.

L’Enclume executive chef and Roux Scholar Tom Barnes was chosen to cook the main course, which was inspired by the works of Beatrix Potter and featured diced loin and belly of Herdwick lamb served in a lamb mousse; crumpets cooked in rendered lamb fat and topped with fennel pollen; and lamb consommé presented in teapots featuring Peter Rabbit illustrations.

Chefs Ruth Hansom and Kerth Gumbs, meanwhile, prepared the banquet’s amuse bouche and pre-dessert, respectively, having cooked the two highest-scoring runner-up dishes over the course of finals week.

Keating was voted ‘Champion of Champions’ following a vote by attendees of this year’s Great British Menu banquet.

Posting a of picture of himself with the top prize on his Instagram​ page, Keating wrote: “Everything in this picture feels like a dream. I just wish my brother could have been there. Thank you to every chef involved, and thank you for the continued incredible support.”

The competition, which begun in March, saw a total of 32 chefs take part.

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