First chef through to 2023 Great British Menu banquet
The judges of BBC competition Great British Menu selected the starter last night for a banquet celebrating the best of British animation and illustration, inspired by Paddington Bear's 65th birthday.
Avinash 'Avi' Shashidhara will be cooking his dish, ‘scrambled snake by the lake', inspired by Alex Scheffler's illustrations in The Gruffalo, for the banquet starter. The dish, papri chaat with roast Delica pumpkin, chutney, pomegranate and beetroot, scored highly in the regional heats, where he won the chance to represent London and the South-East in the finals this week. This year's competition brief meant that all starters were plant-based.
Presenter Andi Oliver described it as a "spectacular dish, full of flavour, bursting with colour", while judge Tom Kerridge said it was "a true celebration of vegetables, just like it should be".
Indian-born Avi has previously worked at Claude Bosi's two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus as a chef de partie and spent a decade working at the River Café. In 2020, he became head chef of Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai in London's Fitzrovia, serving Indian dishes inspired by traditional recipes, which was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand last year.
The winners from the regional heats of the competition are competing this week to earn a place at the six-course banquet and dishes have been influenced by cartoons, comic books and computer games ranging from Horrible Histories to Heartstopper.
(Image: BBC/Optomen Television/Ashleigh Brown)