In 2014, I competed in the BBC’s Great British Menu and won with my fish course.

It was a huge honour to then cook for the war veterans at St Paul’s Cathedral in a banquet commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

So I was thrilled to be asked to come back as a veteran judge for Great British Menu this year, celebrating 100 years of the Women’s Institute, and thought the brief was something I would be able to give input to.

I couldn’t believe that I was going to be mentoring Dominic Chapman and Josh Eggleton whom I competed against last year. Not only are they friends but I also hugely look up to them as chefs.

It was also great to mentor Jude Kereama. The whole week was a real pleasure.

I got to enjoy some incredible food and I hope the chefs took on board my comments as intended – constructive points in heading to a banquet. The South West is an amazing region and Jude, Josh and Dom are three fantastic chefs to be representing it.

The challenge for the chefs was to produce 21st century dishes that honour the custodians of first class home cooking, and pay tribute to the generations of women who have helped make Britain the great culinary nation it is today.

The chefs have taken inspiration from the women in their families – their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers – and the pioneering women of the institute, to turn home-cooked classics into modern masterpieces.

The Women’s Institute was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to produce food for our nation during the First World War.

A century later it is synonymous with British home cooking. From the word go, the women of the WI were a force to be reckoned with – promoting equality for women, education, and impeccable standards – and in 2000, the WI Calendar Girls produced a nude calendar which raised millions for charity and proved that the WI are anything but a stuffy organisation.

We will hold our own Great British Menu dinner here at The Kingham Plough on Monday at which myself and our three regional heat chefs Josh Eggleton, Dominic Chapman and Jude Kereama will create a four-course meal, complete with canapés and a glass of Prosecco, followed by petit fours.


Anyone interested in sampling the Great British Menu cooking day should get in touch with The Kingham Plough. Tickets cost £100.
Call 01608 658327 or see