Horsham chef Matt Gillan has expressed his shock at leap-frogging the shortlist to reach the final stage of the Great British Menu, which is set to be aired tonight.
The head chef at Matt Gillan at The Pass restaurant, at South Lodge in Lower Beeding, spoke to the County Times this afternoon, saying ‘it was totally unbelieveable’.
In last night’s show, screened on BBC 2, Matt became the first chef whose dish went through to the final stage.
Representing London and the South East, he faced tough competition to serve his own main course at Draper’s Hall for the Women’s Institute Banquet.
His billy goats ‘Teaching and Preaching’ dish impressed the judges Prue Leith, Oliver Peyton, Matthew Fort and Felicity Cloake.
Matt said: “I was shocked, I thought I’d make it to the short list, but to receive ten across the board I was blown away, it was absolutely unbelievable.
“It was tough getting into that week, I thought ‘I need to really push these dishes’ and show I deserve to be at the final, and I worked super hard.”
He added: “There was a huge amount of pressure, all the other dishes came before me and there were big scores.
“You put a lot of pressure on yourself and all the other chefs were looking at me.”
Choosing goat as his main ingredient Matt was inspired by his mum: “My mum loved it, she was very proud and very impressed.
“I’ve used goat for a very long time, billy kids are waste product of dairy industry, they’re an amazing ingredient which I grew up on.”
Based on the WI’s ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ ethos Matt used as much of the billy goat meat as possible, merging the essence of home cooking and sustenance.
He said: “The main source of income comes from milk and they’re quite expensive to rear.
“The WI are all about flavour and getting the best out of ingredients with as little waste as possible, they should be the foundation for any cook, really.”
The dish was neatly presented in a hand-painted wooden box, accompanied by a children’s book called The Herder, inspired from the children’s book The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
“I wanted to tell people why I’m using the goat and the reality of the industry that people don’t see,” he said.
Matt’s outstanding presentation also represented the importance of campaigning, echoing the ethos of the WI, to ensure a sustainable and safe future for the industry.
Amid the overwhelming pressure of the finals Matt said he’s really bonded with the other contestants: “We had a really good week, no one was bowing down to any one and looking over their shoulder.”
He added:”There was mutual respect, we were all on same level and we were honest about everyone’s dishes.”
The last episode of the Final’s Week of the Great British Menu is on tonight at 7pm on BBC 2.