Michael Reid, executive chef of M Restaurants, tells Katherine Price about competing on this year's Great British Menu
What was it like competing on Great British Menu 2017?
It was a different environment and I think we were lucky. I got on with Tom [Kemble, of Bonhams restaurant] and Selin [Kiazim, of Oklava] very well and we were all first-timers, so it was a new experience for us all.
It's very different to cooking in your own kitchen every day though - you know where everything is, you know how the equipment reacts, so to be cooking in a completely different kitchen is always difficult. But then to do it in front of the cameras is even more difficult and it was something very much out of our comfort zones. It was fun, but it was only really fun after the work had finished!
What was the most difficult thing?
At the end of the day, it's a competition and ultimately, when you're under that kind of pressure and you're that busy, in your own kitchen, the last thing you would do is stop to have a conversation! You would crack on and you'd get it done.
But ultimately, you're under so much pressure to produce dishes, whilst having to hold a conversation and explain the elements. Doing demos and masterclasses and presentations at cookery schools is one thing, but we weren't doing that. We were trying to produce amazing food which would get us through, but having to do that side of the job at the same time which was definitely the most challenging part. If you could just be left alone and cook for an hour and a half it would be so much easier - but it wouldn't make good TV.
Are you nervous about seeing yourself on television?
Yeah absolutely. There was a lot of filming involved not just on the competition days but all the background stories too so ultimately they have a huge amount of footage that they could use and you never know how you'll actually come across when they condense that footage down into four or five thrilling episodes.
Do you think it will attract more people to the restaurant?
I hope it will help raise the profile of both myself and my restaurants. It's a showcase of what we do every day in our kitchens and will hopefully help me reach a larger audience.
Have you learned anything from the experience? Would you do it again?
It was the first competition I've done in years so it reminded me what it was like for young chefs who put themselves out there all the time and when they are looking for work, it was a humbling experience. I would love to come back, but maybe it will be as veteran judge or maybe notâ¦ you'll find out soon enough.
How did you feel about the Wimbledon theme?
The challenge for that, more than anything, was that it was almost two briefs within one. So, it was 'A Taste of Summer' but it was also 'Celebrating Wimbledon' - making sure dishes hit both of those separate elements was a challenge. But ultimately, I love summer - I love summer ingredients and the produce at that time is phenomenal so I had a lot of fun creating the menu and then tying it in to the Wimbledon theme. I'm also a huge tennis fan so it was like fate when I found out the brief!
What are you working on now, what are your plans ahead?
We are getting ready to open our third restaurant, a new concept in Twickenham M Bar and Grill which will be a celebration of British cuisine and British beef.
I'm also putting the finishing touches on a Young Chef of the Year Awards alongside Bookatable which will give the winning young chefs the chance to have a residency at M Victoria. We've already got the likes of Phil Howard and Richard Bainbridge involved as well, which is fantastic.
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