Great British Menu returns as chefs cook for Comic Relief

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Great british menu Aiden byrne

Great British Menu is back for 2013 with chefs and judges helping to raise funds for Comic Relief ahead of Red Nose Day
Great British Menu is back for 2013 with chefs and judges helping to raise funds for Comic Relief ahead of Red Nose Day
Aiden Byrne, Tom Aikens and Daniel Clifford are among chefs confirmed to be taking part in the eighth series of Great British Menu which will see 24 chefs compete for the chance to cook at a special Comic Relief banquet.

Great British Menu does Comic Relief hits TV screens on Monday 28 January when Tom Aikens is joined by newcomers to the show Adam Simmonds and Matt Gillan who will represent London and the South East.

This year, the show is celebrating 25 years of the Comic Relief Red Nose Day appeal and the contestants will be tasked with combining fine-dining and comedy in their dishes as they fight it out to cook a dish at a special banquet at the Royal Albert Hall.

"Great British Menu is back and the competition is as tough as ever," a spokesperson for the show said. "24 of the nation’s finest chefs are battling it out to cook gastronomic masterpieces that are also witty and fun; dishes that will put smiles on everyone’s faces.

"Comic Relief has raised over £800m through the power of entertainment and this year Britain’s premiere chefs are challenged to marry serious cooking with humour to celebrate the charity’s achievements."

The crew, with several Michelin stars between them, will be mentored by a chef from a region other than their own including Angela Hartnett, Glynn Purnell, Tom Kerridge, Marcus Wareing and Richard Corrigan who will be overseeing week one.

Great British Menu does Comic Relief:

Celebrity fundraising

In a twist to the format for 2013, the trio of judges - Prue Leith, Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton - will be joined each week by a comedy guest judge. Ade Edmondson, Vic Reeves and Patricia Hodge will all be bringing a slice of entertainment to the judging.

The Comic Relief theme will also see the chefs taking on more challenges than simply preparing an entertaining starter, main and dessert.

Each week the chefs will be teaming up with entertainers including Eastenders star June Brown and comedian Roy Walker to visit some of the UK's leading charities and help raise funds for them in a host of ways including abseiling, skydiving and walking on hot coals.

High pressure

One of the closely-watched weeks will be the contest for the North West which sees Liverpool-born Aiden Byrne try his luck once again as he takes on Mary-Ellen McTague from Aumbry and Alderley Edge Hotel head chef Chris Holland.

Speaking to BigHospitality recently, Byrne said he was confident he could turn his luck in the TV show around.

"I have always felt pretty confident, it is just the people I always come up against – they always go on to get through to the banquet," he said.

"I keep on thinking it must be my year but you never take anything for granted. I have had my fair share of bad luck but fingers crossed it is my year."

Holland, who will be showcasing the dishes he created on the show at his Cheshire restaurant to raise money for Comic Relief, is competing in Great British Menu for the first time.

“It’s one of the highest-pressure experiences I’ve ever had in a kitchen," said Holland. "Competing with Aiden Byrne, who is one of the country’s most experienced chefs at this competition level, made it even more stressful. But it’s great fun too and the comedy brief brings out some great food ideas from everyone."

Great British Menu does Comic Relief starts on BBC Two on Monday 28 January at 19:30. Also appearing this year are Mark Greenaway, Peter Sanchez-Iglesias and Will Holland.

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