Interview with Elly Wentworth representing the South West region on Great British Menu 2022 – Women In the Food Industry
Great British Menu (GBM) returned to our screens in February 2022 for series 17. The BBC Two show puts the nation’s most talented chefs to the test. At Women in the Food Industry we are interviewing the strong female line-up of chefs from across Britain competing to serve their dish at the final banquet. To continue our series, our co-founder, Mecca Ibrahim, interviewed Elly Wentworth Head Chef at The Angel in Dartmouth, Devon. For the first time in Great British Menu’s history this is an all female line up of chefs.
How did you start working in the food world and where did you train to be a chef?
I trained and qualified in Plymouth. I started work with Chris and James Tanner at Tanners Restaurant in Plymouth when I was about 17. I was there for two years which was my first real insight in cookery and fine dining and then moved onto Michelin starred restaurants including those run by Simon Hulstone, Richard Davies and Hywel Jones. In total I had worked for around 10 years in Michelin kitchens. I started here at The Angel in September 2018 as Head Chef.
This will be your second year on the show, how did you get onto it ?
I received a message on Instagram last year and had been on MasterChef The Professionals before. I then received a phone call this year to see if I was available to come onto the show again.
How did you prepare for the broadcasting theme?
I thought this brief was really difficult. There’s a lot of shows to cover. However once I started digging into it, it was quite enjoyable and I got to re-watch a lot of shows. I don’t really have a chance to watch much telly and if I do it’s mostly Netflix. It’s quite exciting to be able to put my stamp on TV shows from the South West and bring them onto Great British Menu.
It’s your second time on Great British Menu, how did you find it working under the cameras ?
I think it was the same. You’re under a lot of pressure. You have to cook in a certain amount of time. I was lucky from having done the show before and also MasterChef The Professionals. The only one that can knock you off your spot is yourself, you just have to make sure that you focus and bring something up to the pass.
Which was the hardest course to prepare for?
All of them! There was a couple that I worked very, very hard on. It’s all about hitting the brief. Before you go on the show and you watch it, you think, how did you get that. Until you are actually on the show, you don’t realise how difficult it is to hit the brief and nail the food too.
GBM is very much known for its props, did you embrace the props on the show?
I didn’t go overly proppy but there are a few surprises.
Which chef that you have worked with has given you the most inspiration?
I really like Daniel Clifford’s food. I think he’s amazing in what he does and how he leads his team is brilliant. I really like Michael Wignall’s food too. There’s some really good South West legends down here, like Paul Ainsworth, Michael Caines and Nathan Outlaw. We’re very lucky down here to have chefs with such good accolades.
If you were marooned on a desert island, what was the one type of dish you could happily live on?
Scrambled eggs on toast. I love them with a bit of Worcester Sauce. Or salad cream on crumpets. If I grab a sandwich I don’t like butter on it. My twin sister’s the same.
What was it like being part of the first week of all female chefs on Great British Menu?
It was brilliant. It’s what we need in hospitality right now, being able to showcase more women. I feel that we all worked really well together as a team. It wasn’t hugely competitive, we all helped each other. There wasn’t any losers. Obviously one does need to go through, but at the end of the day everyone worked really hard to showcase their capability. We all had fun and that’s what’s important.
Finally, what do you know now that you wish you could have told your younger self when you were starting out?
Go on more stages and go and experience three star and two star restaurants across the world. Travel more too. I’ve not really travelled and only been on a plane about three times before. Do something that I’d never done before. Work in a three star restaurant overseas and do something that I would never know on a day to day basis.
Elly will be appearing on Great British Menu from Tuesday 15th March 2022 representing the South West region. Look out for more in our series of interviews with the great women chefs on Great British Menu 2022.