Niall Keating, executive chef of two Michelin-starred Whatley Manor in the Cotswolds, is the second chef through to the 2020 Great British Menu banquet with his fish course ‘witches of the Northern Lights'.
The dish, inspired by the works of author Philip Pullman, featured black tortellini in the shape of a witch's hat with a small cauldron of dashi broth. It left judge Matthew Fort uttering "I am bewitched".
Keating said: "I'm so delighted with the judges' comments especially when the competition is this strong. We were particularly lucky with the brief this year – it gave us so much creative scope which really fired my imagination. It was my dream to be able to go through to the final banquet and I am really happy to have achieved that goal."
The chef joins Alex Greene of the Michelin-starred Deanes Eipic restaurant in Belfast, who narrowly beat him to win the chance to take his starter, ‘the potato, the onion, the cheese and the wardrobe' to the banquet.
The theme of this year's competition is children's literature, to mark 150 years since the death of Charles Dickens, with judges Matthew Fort, Oliver Peyton and Andi Oliver joined by guest judge, Noughts and Crosses author Malorie Blackman.
Staffordshire-born Keating joined Whatley Manor in 2016, achieving his first Michelin star for the hotel's Dining Room restaurant the following year and his second in 2019.
Keating's modern British menu at the Dining Room restaurant draws inspiration from many different cuisines, including Korean, Japanese and classic French. The Telegraph described the food as "sensational", adding "the tastes and textures are remarkable", while Michelin said that Keating's dishes are "packed full of his personality".
His previous CV highlights include working for Sat Bains and a year at San Francisco's three-Michelin-starred Benu.