Liverpool chef Ellis Barrie has won a place in the finals of this year’s BBC2 The Great British Menu series with a fish dish dedicated to the midwives who delivered his son.
Ellis, who will open his first restaurant in his home city next year at Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, cooked his way through to the prestigious banquet on Friday, where one chef will be crowned 2018’s Champion of Champions.
This series has been celebrating 70 years of the NHS and the south Liverpool-born chef, who co-owns the renowned Marram Grass café in North Wales, has revealed it’s a subject close to his heart.
In the fish finals, he served up a mackerel tartare called ‘53rd millionth baby’ which, he explained, was in honour of nursing staff who delivered his little boy Albert just over a year ago.
“It’s a tribute to the maternity services at the NHS who brought my lad into the world and looked after my Mrs,” he said.
It impressed the judges who awarded the 28-year-old a place in the final and an opportunity to serve a dish at this year’s ‘Feast To Say Thank You’ banquet in the grand hall at St Bartholomew’s – the oldest working hospital in the UK.
Ellis says he was thrilled to win, and relieved that the secret was finally out.
“I actually filmed it about a year ago so I’ve had to keep it to myself for that long – but I am extremely good at keeping secrets,” he joked. “It absolutely killed me, because I love chatting to people, but it was great watching all my family on the edge of their seats not knowing what was going to happen and I didn’t want to spoil that.
“My dream was to get through to the banquet. I started watching the programme when I was about 14 or 15 and it was my sole ambition to get that far, to achieve that much, I honestly had to fight back tears. Great British Menu is really looked up to by people in the industry so you’re being watched by people you care about, you want to do well, so for a chef it’s like winning gold in the Olympics.
“And it’s so lovely for my family who are all still in Liverpool too – I think my grandad told the whole of Halewood to watch!”
After the excitement of his Great British Menu success, Ellis says he can’t wait to bring his dishes home to the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool.
“It’s going to be absolutely epic, to me it feels like I’ve gone away and learned my craft and now I’m coming home. I’m looking forward to bringing my individuality to Liverpool because I love the city and there’s a great buzz around it.
“The support I’ve had has been unreal. We’ve just hit £6,000 on our crowd funding for our new cookery school in Anglesey after only a couple of days, and with Great British Menu and the Royal Albert Dock there’s such a lot of positivity going on. I’m very humbled by the support, you never expect it and it’s been amazing”.