Great British Menu: Bristol chef out of competition despite 10/10 rating for ‘amazing’ dish

Wapping Wharf restaurant manager Woky Ko Larkin Cen has been eliminated from BBC Two’s Great British Menu despite impressive host Andi Oliver and judge Angela Hartnett with his David Attenborough-inspired dish.

Larkin Cen represented Wales, where he grew up, in the acclaimed cooking competition. He saw him take on two other talented chefs last night (February 16) in a bid to cook at the Great British Menu banquet. The theme of this series is British broadcasting, in celebration of the BBC’s centenary.

The three chefs worked hard to create intricate dishes based on British television programs. For his main course, ambitious newcomer Larkin chose to base a Szechuan lamb shoulder hot pot on David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, limiting the amount of meat used.

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Speaking to Andi and Angela, Larkin said: “In many Asian countries meat is only 20% of the diet, but that has a huge impact on the environment. So there will only be about 50 grams of meat in this I’m using a Welsh shoulder of lamb today, which is a nice cut, which I’m going to grill.

The hot broth contained countless spices and was made from beef jus and Chinese chili peppers. Larkin had to run the delicate ramen noodle batter through a pasta machine to compress it and push the air out of the flour. After watching Larkin prepare the dish, Angela said, “Just when we went there and saw 25-30 spices, we know for a fact that Larkin can do this beautiful flavor and spice.”

Alongside Larkin’s contestants Tom and Nathan, Andi tasted the dish, saying it was “glorious”. Fellow contestants praised the hotpot for its kick, depth, and said the noodles were some of the “best they’ve ever had.”

Larkin modestly scored himself a nine, while his peers gave him a 10 for the flat. Angela, referring to the trio of dishes she tried from the chefs, said: “It’s probably, if I’m being absolutely honest, the best main courses I’ve judged during my judging time.”

Unfortunately, the pre-dessert and dessert elements of the competition didn’t work out so well for Larkin. Inspired by the Barry Gavin and Stacey-based sitcom, the Bristol restaurant manager opted for a soft pina colada with fresh pineapple and a spiced rum syrup to go top.

When Andi and Angela tasted Larkin’s pre-desserts privately, Angela said, “It was probably my least favorite, I wasn’t necessarily a big fan. It was very… it was a bit too much too. It was pretty big.”

For her dessert, Larkin celebrated the fact that, from 2005 to 2018, Doctor Who was produced by BBC Cymru Wales by creating a dessert based on the Doctor’s favorite dish – Fish Fingers and Custard.

Speaking to Andi, Larkin said: “So I made a ‘fish finger’ which is an almond shortbread parfait. So this is going to be coated, looks like a fish finger, and I have a cream coconut brulee.

“And just for a nod to a previous Doctor Who, I also made a little sour pear, because he used to hand out Jelly Babies. I hope, you know, fans of Doctor Who will love it.”

While her peers thought the dessert looked “really inviting” and said the brulee had a “lovely sweetness”, Andi didn’t look too happy when she came across a “huge chunk” of sandblasted in perfect sound. Although she enjoyed the sour pear jelly.

At the end of the show, the three contestants were put in front of Angela and Andi to find out what their desserts stood out for them. Angela said: “Larkin, for your dessert, fish fingers and custard, the glass bowl with the burnt and the plate with the fish fingers on it, well done for bringing that to life. Really brilliant.

“The pear-sour jelly was great, full of flavor, and the dish definitely needed some acidity, so I’m glad you added it at the last minute. The brulee was delicious and the parfait tasted great. Shortbread pieces, however, were too large.

“Larkin, I’ll score you a seven.”

Unfortunately, Larkin scored the lowest, meaning it was time for him to go home. But it wasn’t all bleak, as Angela and Andi praised him for his skills.

Andi said, “I just want to tell you that you were a revelation. Your main course is one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time.”

Referring to her main course, she told him, “It was really amazing – you are an incredibly talented chef.” She said the broth was “out of this world”.

Great British Menu airs at 8pm on BBC Two every weekday.

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