HE'S done it again - a pub chef has made it onto the shortlist of chefs hoping to cook at a banquet to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
James Durrant, who owns The Plough Inn, in Longparish, with his wife Louise, competed against eight other top chefs from different regions in the final of BBC2'S, Great British Menu, last night.
Representing the North West, where he is originally from, James fought for the chance to cook a banquet at London's St Paul's Cathedral this Friday, with guests including some of those who fought on D-Day.
Last night's show saw the finalists prepare their starters, with James dishing up S.P.A.M Spice, Pork, Allium, Molusc.
James was first up, presenting his course to the judging panel served in a ration box, with a poem attached to the inside lid.
The father-of-two said: “I'm confident in my starter. To get through to the banquet would be a big honour. To be able to celebrate with the surviving veterans and also to commemorate the other guys who lost their lives and fought for their countries, it's going to be a really special thing and it's something I'll be really proud of if I can do it.”
Judge Oliver Peyton said of James' dish: “It really sings in your mouth.”
But there was some disagreement over whether he had fulfilled the brief, with Oliver adding: “Maybe he's saying if the British had invented spam, this is what it would be!”
D-Day veteran George Batts, who was on the judging panel, said: “It's a relief when you open the box to find it is a different spam, to be honest.”
Prue Leith added: “I think it's a great dish, but I wouldn't give it a 10.”
The competing chefs also gave each other scores out of 10, which were then added to the judges' marks, with the top three highest scoring going on to the final banquet shortlist.
James said he was “over-the-moon” when it was revealed he had made it, with scores of nine from George, nine from Oliver, eight from Prue, 10 from Matthew Fort and an average of seven from the other chefs.
Matthew said: “We were hugely impressed by what can only be described as a very individual interpretation of the letters S.P.A.M, but we absolutely adored it.”
James said: “It's amazing. I'm down to the last three and I've got a chance - I've got a chance to get a dish to the banquet.”
The final menu will be chosen by the judges from the dishes on the shortlist.