Longparish pub chef hopes to blitz rivals in TV cook-off

Chef James Durrant

Chef James Durrant

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Basingstoke Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A TOP pub chef has made it through to the final of a television show in which the winner will cook a banquet to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

James Durrant, who took over The Plough Inn, in Longparish, in April 2012 with his wife Louise, appeared in the ninth series of BBC2’s Great British Menu in the regional round.

Competing against two other top chefs, James fought for the chance to cook a banquet at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral on June 6, marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day, with guests including some of those who fought on that day.

James, who worked at the three Michelin star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, competed in the North West region, where he is originally from, and created a menu celebrating the bravery shown during the war and how we have progressed as a nation with what is available to us now.

While researching his menu for the competition, he discovered that his wife’s grandfather served in the army during the war and, aged just 17, was one of the first to land on the beaches on D-Day.

He spoke to his competitors Mary Ellen McTague and Mark Ellis about the discovery, and said: “It wasn’t until I started really thinking of the research that I actually found out it was on my doorstep really,” adding: “I don’t think I could imagine signing up and risking your life.”

The father-of-two’s winning menu included S.P.A.M Spice, Pork, Allium, Molusc; and Blitz Spirit veal cheek stew, roasted veal loin, sweetbreads, mushrooms, beans on toast, which was the highest scoring dish of the week with a 10 from the judges Prue Leith, Oliver Peyton and Matthew Fort.

Twenty-four chefs took part in this year’s challenge to create dishes worthy of war heroes. The programme, which started on April 7 and runs every weekday at 7.30pm, will finish on June 6 with the final banquet.

James will next appear on the show on June 2, when he will compete in the national finals, shown every day until June 5, when the top four finalists are selected to cook the banquet the following day.

To celebrate his appearance on the show, James is serving samples of his courses designed for the final at The Plough Inn, which has two AA rosettes and was included in the 2014 Michelin Guide, and by showing the episodes live.

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