Hi everyone I hope that you are all well. I can finally tell you about an exciting press lunch I was fortunate enough to be invited to recently at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa, to celebrate the Chef Matt Worswick being selected to appear on Great British Menu, the BBC television series. The brief was to create a menu to compete for the chance to cook at a glorious banquet marking 100 years of the Women’s Institute at London's historic Drapers Hall, a prestigious accolade which all of the chefs competing were eager to win. We were invited to a top-secret lunch to celebrate Matt's GBM appearance and to preview the menu he had created on the show. The Great British Tasting Menu will be available from 25th September until 31st October only in Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa’s 3 AA Rosette fine-dining restaurant, The Lawns. The six course tasting menu will comprise all four of Matt’s GBM dishes as well as a further two dishes inspired by the Women’s Institute. The special menu is a true gastronomic delight, and it will be priced at £80 per person or £125 per person with accompanying wine flight.
We gathered in a private dining room at The Lawns restaurant, where we were welcomed with Prosecco and seated at an elegant table set out for the lucky guests. Matt joined us at the table, to enjoy his dishes away from the pressures of cooking for the judges on television, and to talk us through the inspiration behind the menu.
First up was his dish 'Game Old Bird', Partridge, savoy cabbage, bread sauce and salted blackberries. The partridge was tender and a blackberry caviar offset the meat whilst the bread sauce added an indulgently festive feel to this dish. This was a thrilling note upon which to begin the meal, a dish which combined a wealth of sophisticated flavours and textures.
The fish course, Grandma's Garden, of butter poached native lobster, garden peas, baby vegetables and nasturtiums was equally sublime. I have eaten lobster many times and it can be tricky to get just right but this was cooked to perfection and the delicate vegetables really allowed the lobster flavour to shine, whilst a lobster bisque dazzled the palate and lifted this course to even greater heights.
Matt explained how he had drawn inspiration for the dishes from his own Grandmother who was a long time member of the Women's Institute. Using the best local and seasonal produce available is a core value of his cookery style, and he has forged close relationships with a wealth of excellent local suppliers in his area, such as Callum Edge and Sons Butchers based in New Ferry.
We had already been on a culinary voyage of discovery by then, and next it was time for the hearty and warming main course which was simply excellent. 'Shall I Be Mother' consisted of Lancashire hotpot, lamb loin, braised baby turnips, caramelised red onion and stock pot vegetables This dish was the type of satisfying and comforting food which you could just imagine settling down to on a cold winter's night. It was sheer bliss, with flavoursome meat, tender vegetables and a delightful addition of the tasty hotpot topped with irresistibly crispy potatoes. This is the type of dish you eat and then immediately want more of!
'Grandma’s Orchard', Matt’s dessert rounded off this spectacular lunch with a theatrical flourish. A crate of apples was placed on the table, yet upon further inspection we realised these glossy green apples were not all that they seemed. These apples had been specially made to serve Matt’s dessert dish, and after lifting off the lid we all gasped with delight to see that each ‘apple’ contained a crumble dessert within! This was undoubtedly one of the most creative dishes I have ever eaten and it combined a delicious dessert with a fantastical feeling of childlike delight as we opened the apples to discover the denouement to the lunch. An innovative take on a traditional apple crumble, this comprised apple compote, cider pickled apples, spiced bread crumble and cider brandy ice cream. Simply delicious. Having grown up in a Derbyshire farmhouse, I was raised on desserts like apple crumble, usually eaten by the fire after a large pie or a Sunday roast! This dessert was at once a fine reinvention of a classic dish, and an evocation of many happy memories for me, which is what great food should be all about.
The lunch was undoubtedly a feast for the senses in every way and I was privileged to attend. Matt is extremely modest despite his culinary prowess and impressive career trajectory (he has worked with renowned chefs such as David Everitt-Matthias at Le Champignon Sauvage and he achieved a Michelin star aged just 26). It is exciting to see the dishes he creates, furthermore it is a true pleasure to eat them! With this inspired menu, Matt won the North West heat of the Great British Menu and he will now go on to represent the North West in the final heat of the competition after dazzling the judges.
Before I go, just one last reminder that this Great British Tasting Menu will be available from 25th September until 31st October at Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa’s 3 AA Rosette restaurant, The Lawns. Fans of Great British Menu should be quick if they want to book the special tasting menu, which is served with some of the props used on the show such as those amazing apple ramekins! If you have not already experienced the delights of The Lawns Restaurants and Matt Worswick’s amazing cuisine, this is the perfect excuse to treat yourself. Rest assured it is a meal you will never forget and food lovers everywhere should not miss out on this culinary tour de force!
Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa
0151 336 3938
What do you all think, would you like to try this amazing menu? Which dish do you think would be your favourite? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post!
Until next time,