The Lowdown: Great British Christmas Menu

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

The Lowdown: Great British Christmas Menu Jason Atherton, Tom Aikens, Pip Lacey, Simon Rogan James Cochran NHS key workers BBC2

Related tags: Great british menu

Next month sees the Great British Menu (GBM) return for a festive mini-series in which past winners and veteran chefs battle it out to cook for NHS workers.

Just what we need in lockdown… another cookery show to binge on
Well hopefully by the time this airs England’s lockdown would have lifted and we’ll be able to return to the sanctity of restaurant dining rooms. Still, with MasterChef: The Professionals nearing its conclusion and Great British Bake Off about to come out of the oven, there’s certainly a space in the TV schedules for watching a group of chefs sweat it out in pursuit of the perfect banquet dish.

Fair enough. Is this the first time GBM has had a Christmas special?
No, but it’s been a while. The first Christmas edition of the show aired way back in 2006 when the show had only had one series. Since then we haven't seen the yuletide version, until now.

How will it differ from the regular version of the show?
Well for a start it’s a lot shorter with the series running for just seven episodes, rather than the usual format of having multiple episodes airing over several weeks. There’s also a lot fewer chefs taking part – down from 32 in the most recent series to just 12. Apart from that, though, the set-up remains more or less the same, with the contestants battling it out to impress the judges and have one of their dishes selected for the GBM banquet, which this time will be dedicated to the country’s key NHS workers, who have been vital in the fight against Covid-19 this year.

Which chefs are involved?
The chefs that are set to take part in the series include a mixture of past winners and GBM veterans including Jason Atherton, Tom Aikens, Pip Lacey, Simon Rogan and James Cochran. It’s a noticeably male-dominated line-up, with just two female chefs among the 12-strong group; and is also lacking in diversity, with only two chefs of colour taking part. There’s no doubting the level skill on display, though, with many of those taking part having previously been awarded Michelin stars over the course of their careers.

Who’s on the judging panel?
GBM regulars Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton will return as judges this series. However, the panel will also feature brand new judge, comedian Kerry Godliman, who will also be giving her verdict on the Christmassy creations. She’ll replace Andi Oliver, who has relinquished her seat at the judging table to take on the role of presenter, which she’ll also take forward into the next series of the show when it airs in the new year. The judging line up will be completed by a different guest judge each episode, who will be related to the theme of supporting our key workers.

Well, it certainly sounds like it’ll make for a nice distraction over December. When does the series start?
The Beeb is yet to announce the official start date of Great British Christmas Menu, but we suspect it’ll launch in early December on BBC Two.

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