Andi Oliver revealed as new judge on BBC Two’s Great British Menu
Andi is charming, funny, and blessed with sound gastronomic judgement.Great British Menu judge Matthew Fort
Her appointment comes as Prue Leith CBE made her last appearance on Friday night’s show – after 11 series judging some of the best chefs in the country.
Tonight’s episode – the last in the current series – made history as the Palace of Westminster opened its doors for the first televised banquet to be held in the House of Commons Members’ Dining Room. The winning chefs served four stunning courses created in honour of everyday Great Britons who have been honoured by the Queen.
Andi Oliver, who is a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet and appears on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen, will join judges Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton OBE when Great British Menu returns to BBC Two next year.
Andi Oliver says: “I couldn't be more thrilled to be joining the judging panel of the Great British Menu! It's such an iconic programme and I have watched it religiously from the very beginning. I love that it celebrates the extraordinary levels of culinary excellence in this country, so being part of that and having the chance to taste some truly incredible food from the best chefs in the country is hugely exciting! Who wouldn't want to do this job?”
Prue Leith says: “Being a judge on Great British Menu has brought me huge pleasure over the years and I’m conscious of the great fortune I have had in eating and judging the very best in modern British cooking. From the first Great British Menu for the Queen’s 80th birthday to honouring those who fought on D-Day, I’ve been repeatedly amazed at the inventiveness and skill of the chefs. I am very proud of the banquets we’ve put together. However, with 11 banquets under my belt in more ways than one, I think it’s time for a change and, with much hesitation, I’ve decided to relinquish my seat in the judging chamber. I’m sure Andi Oliver will be terrific. And I hope she’ll continue my good work in keeping Matthew and Oliver under some sort of control.”
Matthew Fort says: “Oliver and I will miss Prue’s elegant presence, good humour, practical culinary sensibility and occasional verbal clip around the ears. There is no like-for-like with Prue. She is unique, and, luckily for us, so is Andi Oliver. Andi is charming, funny, and blessed with sound gastronomic judgement. And I fear she is quite as capable of administering a verbal clip around the ears.”
Oliver Peyton said: “Prue Leith is a legend. It was a massive shock to learn that she’d be leaving me all alone with Mathew Fort. How would I cope? Nobody could replace Prue. Then along came Andi who I fear will be putting Mathew and I in our places all over again. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I will truly miss Prue but I’m a huge fan of Andi’s and can’t wait for her to join us.”
In Friday night’s episode, Great British Menu's four winning chefs, Mark Abbott, Tommy Banks, Mark Froydenlund and Adam Reid – who have five Michelin stars between them – served their dishes at a banquet celebrating everyday Great Britons who have been decorated by the Queen. In the year of her 90th birthday, the challenge was to produce plates of food which showcase the transformation of British cuisine since her coronation. The series has seen the competition reach new heights, as Starter course winner Mark Abbott achieved the highest ever score of 37 out of 40 during the regional heats.
Over the past 11 series some of the UK’s finest chefs have taken part including Tom Kerridge, Marcus Wareing, Angela Hartnett, Nathan Outlaw, Richard Corrigan, Sat Bains, Mark Hix, Jason Atherton, Michael O’Hare, Glynn Purnell, Lisa Allen, Daniel Clifford, Simon Rogan, Phil Howard and Tom Aikens. Banquets have included an Olympics dinner to mark London 2012 hosted by Sir Steve Redgrave, an evening celebrating molecular gastronomy hosted by Heston Blumenthal in The Gherkin and an event to commemorate 70 years since D-Day at St Paul’s Cathedral, attended by then Prime Minister David Cameron.
Great British Menu will return to BBC Two for series 12 in 2017. The first episode of the next series will be the 500th since the show began.
Notes to Editors
Andi Oliver biography
Andi’s lifelong obsession with food started in childhood and she remembers throwing her first dinner party at the age of 12. Her father’s RAF career meant she travelled widely, including stints in Cyprus and Germany. These influences, as well as her family’s Antiguan heritage, have given her a love of food from all over the world. As a broadcaster, Andi has worked across radio and TV for more than 20 years. In 2006 she presented The Truth About Food for the BBC and the following year she and Neneh Cherry hosted their own BBC Two cooking series Neneh and Andi Dish It Up. She has also appeared on Food Glorious Food, Saturday Kitchen, The Big Eat and Market Kitchen. Andi is currently a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet, hosted by Jay Rayner. When she’s not broadcasting, Andi co-runs SugarShack. Food is not Andi’s only passion. Her first appearance on TV was as a singer in the band Rip, Rig and Panic (alongside Neneh Cherry) and she has also presented from the Brit Awards and Glastonbury Festival.
Prue Leith CBE biography
Prue is the founder of Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London and Prue Leith Chef’s Academy in South Africa. Her restaurant, Leith’s, won a Michelin star and Leith’s Good Food has a range of well-known clients. Prue has been cookery correspondent for The Daily Mail, Sunday Express and The Guardian. In addition to twelve cookery books, she has written seven novels and an autobiography, Relish. She has eleven honorary degrees or fellowships from British Universities, is a past Business Woman of the Year and was awarded OBE in 1989 and CBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours.