Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

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Catch these local chefs on Great British Menu

The new series of Great British Menu hits our TV screens this evening – Wednesday 24 March – at 8pm on BBC Two. Following the same format as previous years,…

The new series of Great British Menu hits our TV screens this evening – Wednesday 24 March – at 8pm on BBC Two.

Following the same format as previous years, four chefs from each of eight regions of the UK will compete to cook at the prestigious finale Banquet.

The chefs representing the Central region this year are Lincolnshire-born Shannon Johnson, head chef at Hicce in Coal Drops Yard, London, and Wolverhampton-born Sabrina Gidda, who was runner-up for the Central region three years ago and is now executive chef at The AllBright.

The pair will be joined by Staffordshire chef and restaurateur Liam Dillon, of The Boat Inn near Lichfield, and Staffordshire-raised Stuart Collins, chef-patron of Docket No. 33 in Whitchurch, just across the border in Shropshire.

Liam Dillon, The Boat Inn

As Sauce readers will know, Liam has worked in some of the UK’s top kitchens, including Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, Five Fields in Chelsea and Story by Tom Sellers in Bermondsey. He’s also travelled the world with stints at Quay in Sydney, Noma in Copenhagen, and Eleven Madison Park and Gilt in New York.

In 2017, Liam returned to his hometown as chef owner of The Boat Inn. Since then he and his family have worked to convert the roadside pub into an award-winning modern British restaurant. It’s currently the only restaurant in Staffordshire to hold 3 AA rosettes. Liam’s menu for the show pays homage to local pioneers such as Lichfield-born Samuel Johnson, famous for his early Dictionary of The English Language.

“I grew up watching the programme, dreaming of being a chef so it’s a bit surreal, but also an honour, that here I am, years later, a professional on the show,” Liam told Sauce. “I enjoyed every single second. It was exciting, stressful… I was surrounded by some amazing fellow chefs…it was actually a privilege to be part of the programme.

“I am also extremely proud to be flying the flag for Staffordshire, and representing my home town of Lichfield. It’s been a tough year for everyone, especially those working in the hospitality industry. Here at The Boat Inn we’ve made many changes both to the decor and the menu. We’ve also invested heavily in outdoor dining and I and the team can’t wait to open the doors again and welcome people back.”

Liam Dillon, The Boat Inn.

Stuart Collins, Docket No. 33

Stuart Collins grew up in Wheaton Aston, near Penkridge, and has worked with household names from Gary Rhodes and Michael Caines to Gordon Ramsay over the course of his career. After a working-stage at City Rhodes, he went to Gidleigh Park and then onto Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, before helping set up Ramsay’s New York restaurants at The London NYC, where he became Head Chef at Maze.

In 2017, Stuart and his wife Frances opened their own restaurant, Docket No. 33, which has featured in the Michelin Guide GB & NI for two consecutive years. It offers a carefully curated tasting menu with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients. 

Stuart and the team have kept busy over the past few months with their ‘Docket at Home’ offer, a weekly-changing menu that guests finish at home. A sell-out every week since launch, the team plans to continue to offer the meal kits even after reopening the restaurant in May (subject to government guidelines).

“This year’s brief was really exciting and a great opportunity to learn more about the amazing innovators and inventors from the Central region,” Stuart told Sauce. “To then create dishes, using local ingredients, to represent their success is a privilege.

“There was some seriously good competition in the kitchen, showcasing the creativity and skills of the chefs from our region.”

Stuart Collins, Docket No. 33.

 

This year Great British Menu will celebrate British innovation, with 2021 marking the 30th anniversary of Sir Timothy Berners-Lee’s invention of the World Wide Web and Helen Sharman becoming the first British astronaut to go into space. Former judge Andi Oliver will be presenting, with Rachel Khoo taking her place on the panel. We hope you’ll be joining us in cheering on our local chefs!

To book The Boat Inn or order from their Heat at Home menu, go to: theboatinnlichfield.com

To book Docket No. 33 or Docket at Home, please visit: docketrestaurant.com/no-33

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Sunday Homework Sessions launch at The Boat Inn

On Sunday 1 September, Liam Dillon and the team at The Boat Inn will launch an innovative new concept – Sunday Homework Sessions – where the kitchen team will be…

On Sunday 1 September, Liam Dillon and the team at The Boat Inn will launch an innovative new concept – Sunday Homework Sessions – where the kitchen team will be creating new dishes based around a different ingredient each weekend. 

A select number of guests will play the role of critics while taking part in a dining experience quite out of the ordinary. The chefs’ original dishes and flavour combinations may or may not make it onto the menu, depending on your feedback.

Every Sunday, a small number of guests will be invited to dine at the chef’s table in order to help the kitchen team with their ‘homework’, tasting new flavours and plates, and giving their honest feedback on the different dishes served.

Developing dishes without constraints or limitations is something many chefs relish the chance to do. The Sunday Homework Sessions will give them the opportunity to do just that. Each chef in the team will be challenged to dig deep and channel their inner creativity, playing with fresh ingredients in order to produce plates of food that showcase their abilities. Only those that meet the diners’ critical approval will have the chance to win a coveted place on one of The Boat’s menus.

Tickets for the Sunday Homework Sessions are just £15 each and can be purchased through their website. Starting at 6pm, guests will be treated to a number of small plates throughout the evening, and each asked for their thoughts whilst trying a myriad of different combinations.

The first Sunday Homework Session will be on Sunday 1 September. Follow The Boat Inn on Instagram to see the focus ingredient revealed.

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Midlands’ best restaurant launches Versus Supper Clubs

The Boat Inn at Muckley Corner, Lichfield, took Best Fine Dining Restaurant at The Midlands Food, Drink & Hospitality Awards 2019, while head chef Liam Dillon walked away with Best Chef for…

The Boat Inn at Muckley Corner, Lichfield, took Best Fine Dining Restaurant at The Midlands Food, Drink & Hospitality Awards 2019, while head chef Liam Dillon walked away with Best Chef for the second consecutive year.

Liam DillonThe fourth Midlands Food Drink & Hospitality Awards was hosted at Villa Park on Monday 24 June, and saw the movers and shakers of the food, drink and hospitality industry from across Birmingham and the rest of the Midlands come together for an evening of celebration. Liam Dillon and his restaurant were flying the flag for Staffordshire as the only representatives of the county to walk away with awards on the night.

Liam has recently launched his new Versus Supper Club series which will see guest chefs go head-to-head against him in The Boat’s open kitchen. The next event is an evening with Kray Treadwell – former head chef of Michelin-starred The Man Behind The Curtain in Leeds who was recently part of Great British Menu 2019 – on Monday 15 July.

The chefs create rival six-course menus and guests get a score card to track whose dishes are their favourite with the winner revealed at the end of the night. Tickets for each supper club are £75 per person, with a donation from each sale going to the guest chef’s chosen charity.

The Versus Supper Club line-up for the next six months looks like this:

Kray Treadwell – Monday 15 July

Bruce Cheyne, head chef at Swinfen Hall Hotel, Lichfield – Monday 12 August

Tom Shepherd, head chef of Adam’s Restaurant, Birmingham – Monday 23 September

Will Holland, executive head chef at The Atlantic, Jersey – Monday 7 October

Matt Cheal, head chef of Cheal’s of Henley – Monday 18 November

Louisa Ellis, MasterChef finalist and private chef – Monday 9 December

 To book tickets for any of these events, go to: theboatinnlichfield.com

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