This is a blog from Julie Philpot, in which she tell us what the BWN has done for her this year.
What do you think?
I received an email in January this year from Mandie telling me that ITV were auditioning for Britain’s Best Dish and why didn’t I apply to go on it. I thought about it for a couple of days and then on the Sunday night I decided to apply for the show and to cook an Indian Dish. I filled in the application and it took me a full 10 minutes to press the send button!!!! On the Monday morning I got a call from Lucy at ITV in reply to my application. She said that as I taught Indian Cooking in my classes, I would not be allowed to cook this dish on Britain’s Best Dish, but would be able to do a dish that I did not teach. I decided that I could do a dessert. She gave me 24 hours to put forward a dessert to cook on the show!! I thought about it and decided to cook a ‘Blueberry Burst Gateaux’, a favourite with many friends and sent the details to ITV.
On the next Thursday I received a call telling me that I had got through to the auditions which were being held that Sunday, 30th January in Cambridge, and they also asked me to bring along an Indian dessert as well as my Blueberry Gateaux. I cooked both dishes several times over the next couple of days, and on the Sunday set off early morning, with my partner, to Cambridge with my dishes safely packed in the car. At the auditions I had to pitch my dishes to the two judges (not the ones on the TV show) and then be filmed saying why I thought my dishes were Britain’s Best and also had a chat to the food team. I was told I would hear within 2 weeks if I was through to the next round….
I went off on holiday for a week still not having heard anything. Whilst away I got an email saying that unfortunately I had not got through to the filming stage and that the only reason for this was that there was a very similar dish to my Indian desert already been entered. The email said that the judges were very impressed with me and encouraged me to apply again for the next series.
On Tuesday 22nd Feb when teaching a Vegetarian Course, I had 3 missed calls and a voicemail from Lucy at ITV asking me to give her a call as she had good news. After the course I rang her and she told me that someone selected was not able to make the filming, and that I was top of the list to be invited to the filming stage and they wanted me to cook the Blueberry Burst Gateaux.
I next got a call from Connor at ITV to arrange my transport and overnight hotel in London to stay on Sunday 6th March, courtesy of ITV – I was getting excited by now! Since finding out on that Tuesday, I cooked the dish numerous times getting as many people as I could to sample it and give feedback – which I must say, was very positive.
On 26th Feb I had an email from Connor at ITV confirming my hotel booking and my train tickets. I would be staying at the Premier Inn, near the London Eye and had to be up and ready to be picked up for filming on the Monday morning at 6.30am!!!
Must say I remember that I was getting very nervous. We were picked up outside the hotel at 6.30am and taken to the studios where we were given breakfast and a pep talk from the producer, Juliette.
The reality of what I was about to do then hit me – cooking in a studio with eagle eyed judges watching at close range and cameras right in your face! On that day I was up against a 15 year old school boy who was cooking a crumble. He was really nervous as was his mother, who had to be in the studio with him due to him being under 16. It was difficult competing against a young boy as one part of me wants him to win, but the other wanted it for myself. Anyway, I cooked my dish and managed to get it all done in the time allotted. This was then tasted by the three judges – both Ed Baines and John Burton Race liked my pudding but Gilly Goulden thought the sponge was a bit dry. John suggested I add a lemon custard to combat this. The next nerve racking bit was standing in front of the judges to see who had won. Tom got the first vote from Gilly and I got John’s vote (I think I knew then I had won because I knew Ed loved my dish)
Ed voted for me and said he couldn’t wait to eat my pudding again. I was through to the Eastern Region Finals!!!
Back up to London again on Saturday 19th March for the filming of the finals the following day. This time my competitor was Beccy Carpenter, a really lovely lady who was cooking Hazelnut Tart with sloe gin ice cream and jelly. I think I was more nervous this time because there was more at stake – £500 prize for the winner and a place in the 1/4 finals.
I had made changes to my dish and took the sponge out 6 minutes earlier than the last time and added Lemon custard and blueberry coulis to combat the comments about it being dry. At the judges tastings I got some amazing feedback – John said it was amazing and Gilly said the new additions made a great improvement and Ed said he loved the dish. I remember shaking when waiting for the votes. I got the first vote from Ed and Beccy got Gilly’s vote and then I was voted through by John, WOW – Winner of the Eastern Region with my pudding and on my way to the 1/4 finals – plus I was £500 richer.
I had to keep all this a secret as it would be 5 weeks before the programme was aired on ITV. That was so hard as everyone kept asking me how I had got on.
The 1/4 finals were filmed at Hackney catering College on Monday 28th March in London. So off I went again to cook my socks off. It was very difficult to cook in a professional kitchen with all the industrial equipment and it was a hot day as well. I knew I had tough competition as I was up against the best puddings from each region.
There were 7 of us cooking and only 2 places available in the semi finals. We had a pep talk from Ed Baines explaining that Gilly, John and him would be tasting all seven dishes and they would choose just 4 to go through to the 3 food critics. The other 3 would go home. We were sent off to our respective kitchens feeling even more nervous now. We had 2 hours to get our dishes made and plated for tasting. This time I added a limoncello syrup to my sponge to make it very moist and to hopefully have the chance to go through to the critics. The judges came round to our kitchens to help and advise us. The cameras this time were mobile and very much in our faces. We were made to stay in our kitchens whilst the judges tasted and then we all lined up to face the verdict. The first two were eliminated and then Gilly had to decide the third person to go. Sadly it was me and I was gutted.
I do feel very proud to be the winner of the Eastern Region having beaten off so much competition, but I think its only natural to want just that bit more. It was a fantastic experience and has given me great media coverage over the last few weeks.
A big thank you to Mandie from The BWN for twisting my arm into entering this competition – I hope I have done you proud…
Made us proud? You are an amazing business woman and we knew you could do it!
(You were robbed and we are not at all bias – well maybe a little bit.)
And By the Way when do we get the recipe Julie and when is the cook book coming out?
To get in touch with Julie and to learn more about winning recipes:
To be a part of our network it is just £10 a month and includes networking, free mentoring, a confidential mastermind group, affiliate offers and free promotion on this website.