Morston Hall chef’s TV moment gives taste of his life

A top Norfolk chef is appearing on national television next week to showcase his cookery skills, and reveal a flavour of his childhood.

Richard Bainbridge, who has been head chef at the award winning Morston Hall for four years, is competing all week in BBC2's Great British Menu programme, which focuses on community banquet style food to be shared.

His dishes include a cottage pie, in tribute to his favourite childhood food cooked by his mum, and the filming - done earlier in the year - visits a Norwich-based single mum's group that helped her, and the Hellesdon pub where they both worked.

Mr Bainbridge, 28, said his mum Jill, now living at Drayton, had been helped by the group whose sessions included shared meals. They are filmed visiting a similar group, called Spin, on Aylsham Road, and going to the Hellesdon Bull where he had his first job as a 13 years old washer up, which led to the start of his cooking career.

'I did want to be a postman, but was dyslexic so ended up going down the chef route instead,' said Mr Bainbridge.

After a brief spell as a trainee Morston Hall, he travelled the world including the United States, and New Zealand, but returned there to work alongside celebrity chef owner Galton Blackiston.

Mr Bainbridge, from Weybourne, appeared on the Great British menu last year and made an early exit. Although he cannot reveal the outcome of this year's session he admits he has done better - and to admiring the TV cheffing skills of his boss.

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'There is pressure doing the cooking and menus at Morston Hall, but cooking in front of cameras is a totally different pressure. Galton makes it look so easy, but it's not.

'This year I was more confident because I was less worried about the cameras and concentrated more on the cooking,' he explained.

Mr Bainbridge did an English picnic of quail starter, including a quail's scotch egg, cheese scone and dandelion salad in a wicker basket.

His fish course was a fondue of Norfolk lobster with a fennel and chive salad; The main was his twist on beef Wellington, with a French Brioche sweet bread instead of puff pastry, with that side dish of mum's cottage pie.

'It was a nod to growing up and my favourite dish when it was young,' he added.

The dessert was a DIY sundae on a sharing platter where diners can custom build the combination of their choice from a variety of ice creams, strawberry biscuit, rose meringue and chocolate and pistachio sugary 'soil'.

'I felt I could let my identity come through more this year - a bit retro and quirky,' he added back at the hotel as it geared up for a busy Easter.

'It was nice to be on television, but I know my heart is in the kitchen at Morston,' said Mr Bainbridge. who is up against Aktar Islam from Birmingham and Sue Ellis from Worcestser in the show, which airs nightly at 6.30pm on BBC2 from Monday to Friday.

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