Horsham Chef Matt Gillan was described as the ‘find of the competition’ last night by judges on the Great British Menu.
The Michelin Star chef competed against North East contestant Michael O’Hare and impressed judges Prue Leith, Oliver Peyton, Matthew Fort with his honeybee-inspired dessert, Honey Where Would We Bee Without You?
With his main course being placed directly onto the final menu, last night’s episode on BBC 2 showed the chef going head to head with his competitor for the best dessert dish to be short-listed for the banquet of the Women’s Institute, who celebrate their centenary this year.
Matt, who is head chef at Matt Gillan at The Pass, in South Lodge, Lower Beeding, said on the show: “I am absolutely on cloud 9 still.”
Before adding: “Still another chance to get another dish to the banquet.
“You know, I’m not going to rest up on just having one dish there.”
The dessert, inspired by recent WI campaign to save the honey bee, was initially criticised for being too sweet by the judges in the regional trials.
Matt said: “It’s a risk, but if you’re not taking a risk and you’re not pushing yourself, then, what’s the point of being here?”
After making drastic changes to his dessert, guest judge Mary Gwynn, a WI member and renown food writer, said: “The cake is a huge improvement.”
Ms Gwynn, who helped crown Matt Gillan London and South East Champion, added: “It’s got its feet on the ground, but it’s got its head up in the clouds, I think it’s wonderful.”
He was short-listed for his astonishing pudding along with Richard Bainbridge who represents the Central region.
He said: “I am excited and I am nervous as well, potentially I could have two courses at the banquet.”
Whist achieving a promising score from the judges, it was Richard’s Trifle and Victoria Sponge Cocktail dessert that won over the judges for the final menu along with his starter dish.
Despite not getting a second dish onto the menu, Matt said: “I have achieved what I came here to do and that is to get the main course at the banquet.”
Chefs Matt, Rich and Michael will be seen cooking at the banquet at Draper’s Hall.
Speaking yesterday to the County Times about the experience, Matt said: “We had a really good week, no one was bowing down to any one and looking over their shoulder.”
He added:”There was mutual respect, we were all on same level and we were honest about everyone’s dishes.”
The final episode of the Great British Menu will be showed tonight on BBC 2 at 7 pm.