"You walk in and see all the film crew and at first it is so nerve wracking. Its almost impossible to work without your hands shaking. You cant predict what its like until you are there."
Harriet Mansell, is opening up a pop-up restaurant called Robin Wylde in Lyme Regis. It will be her first time appearing on Great British Menu. Women In the Food Industry spoke to Harriet about her experience.
Harriet trained at Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking. Before that she studied History and Politics at university. She said "After university I did a ski season and worked with lots of chefs out there. I was so inspired by them and at that point I thought that hospitality is what makes me happy. That feeling came from a place of passion and love".
Last summer she was contacted by a producers on Great British Menu who were looking for chefs in the South West but they hadn’t had any applications from women there. Harriet explained "The producers also wanted to get emerging chefs on the show and liked the pop-up restaurant scene. She sent me the brief and as I was setting up my own restaurant then, to do it justice I knew it would be a huge amount of work, but I thought, why not, let’s go for it."
When asked what it was like working under the eye of the cameras, Harriet said:
"You walk in and see all the film crew and at first it is so nerve wracking. It’s almost impossible to work without your hands shaking. You can’t predict what it’s like until you are there. I was taken aback, but gradually you acclimatise and get used to it."
Like all the other chefs Harriet was excited about the children's literature theme this year and explained her approach to working on it:
"With the brief you need to go mega local, for me most of it was easy as the area around me is magical and there’s some incredible children’s literature from where I live. For example Beatrix Potter used to holiday in Lyme Regis and Enid Blyton holidayed down in Dorset and that’s where she set The Famous Five.
My starter was the hardest. I took the brief incredibly seriously about using strictly local ingredients. It was based on a very local author from Devon. In my head I had quite an elaborate theme and I knew there would be severe time constraints around it. Doing the show is a huge learning experience".
Great British Menu is know for its props and Harriet was asked whether she embraced them on the show:
"It’s such a theatrical theme and the banquet calls for it. I felt to make it fun and whimsical I needed to do something to bolster that. At the end of the day it is a competition about food, but it does take a long time researching, sourcing and preparing the props and if I did it again I would spend more time on the food."
Harriet will be appearing on Great British Menu from Wednesday 22nd April 2020 representing the South West. You can read the full interview with Harriet Mansell on Great British Menu here and find out more about her background, how she became a chef on private yachts, the challenges of opening up a new restaurant and who inspires her in the food industry.