My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Welsh chef Nathan Davies wins the starter course for Great British Menu

Nathan Davies

It’s national finals week on Great British Menu, where the winners from the regional heats compete to earn a place on the menu of a spectacular banquet celebrating 100 years of brilliant British broadcasting. In tonight’s episode we saw, BAFTA-winning writer, actor and comedian Steve Pemberton join Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge, restaurateur Nisha Katona and food podcast host and comedian, Ed Gamble on the judging panel. They were tasked with picking a winner from eight innovative starter courses, but it was Nathan Davies who secured the first place on the menu at the banquet.

Nathan boasts a varied career from working for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, to being a private chef in France and he was Gareth Ward’s Head Chef at Ynshir (1*) for four years. In 2019 Nathan opened SY23 in Aberystwyth where he showcases his ethos of locally foraged or sourced ingredients cooked simply over the fire. As a keen woodsman, Nathan makes his own pine oil – which is just one of the unique ingredients Nathan brings to the competition.

Here is what Nathan had to say about winning the starter course:

How does it feel to win a course to serve at the banquet?

To see it through right to the end, and to get a dish at the banquet is an amazing achievement, and just a lovely way to finish the whole process.

What was your inspiration for the dish, and what made you choose the theme/ingredients?

My dish was inspired by Merlin, the television show. I wanted it to be a mediaeval broth, and with us being in Wales, we’ve got fantastic lamb and all these wonderful ingredients that lend themselves quite naturally to the dish.

Was it hard to prepare for?

The whole thing’s been hard to perfect. The last couple years have been quite tough so it’s been a nice escape to do something a bit different. It’s a tough competition, with a lot of really good chefs, and in particular I found my heat week to be really strong. All I wanted to do was to do better than I did last year, so my goal was to get through to finals week. Luckily for me, I got the first dish so it eased the pressure for me for the rest of the week. I could just really enjoy it.

How did it compare to last time?

I think the competition has changed quite considerably. Last year I scored really highly from Tommy Banks, the veteran chef, but when it came to the judges table, they didn’t get where I was trying to go with the food.  Having someone like Tom Kerridge on the panel, someone who not only has done a lot in the industry but they’re still in the industry now has really helped me I think.

What was it like working under the cameras and lights?

I work in quite a methodical way in the way that I set up, so I think you’ve just got to almost forget that the cameras are there. Enjoy the process first and foremost, and just get stuck into it. I think it helped that I brought my barbecue from home which I cook on in the restaurant all the time, so I just relaxed into it and enjoyed the process. It’s such a unique thing, compared to our day-to-day work, but I really enjoyed it to be honest.

Out of all of your courses, did you feel like your starter was the strongest?

No, I thought another of my dishes would be the strongest!

Great British Menu: The Finals continues tomorrow on BBC Two at 8pm and you can catch the Banquet Special on Friday at 7:30pm on BBCiPlayer.