"I worked hard to get where I was and hard work does pay off. You have to enjoy what you do, work as hard as you can and youll get to where you want to be"
Great British Menu (GBM) is back for series 14. The BBC Two show has a brand new format and new studio. Women in the Food Industry are interviewing the strong female line-up of chefs from across Britain competing to serve their dish at the final banquet. Their co-founder, Mecca Ibrahim, interviewed Cindy Challoner former Head Chef of The Classroom (now working at Hang Fire Smokehouse in Barry) who is representing Wales on Great British Menu starting 1st May 2019.
Cindy is a first timer on the show and readily agreed to take part as it was such a fantastic opportunity. She said "I’ve never done a competition like this before in my life, and this is one of the biggest ones."
Originally from West Wales, Cindy went to catering college at 15 for four years to learn her trade. When she was 20 she decided to move to Cardiff to get a job, as there were no big restaurants in her area at the time. She said "I haven’t looked back to be honest. I was a chef de partie at The Fig Tree in Penarth when I first moved down to Cardiff. Then I went to The Thistle for another two and a half years. Saw a role advertised as sous chef at The Classroom and then worked my way up to becoming head chef there."
She is on the show with Andy Sheridan who had been on Great British Menu before and Tom Westerland who was new to the show. When asked what it was like working with them she said "I know Tom, so it was nice walking into the kitchen and I thought “Thank God someone I know”. Also two of us did The Green Green Grass of Home as our starter and they both featured lamb, so the producers were trying to get a bit of competition going between us. Who was going to have the better lamb? Who’d get the better dish? But we all just had a laugh and got on with it."
Cindy will face veteran chef Phil Howard who will be judging her efforts along with Tom and Andy. How did she find that experience: "All of the judges have to be fairly brutal if I’m honest, and he came down hard on mistakes but his feedback was good. As soon as he walked in, we were all “Oh my god”. I think Andrew Sheridan who had been on before was asked who would you NOT like to have and he said Phil Howard. So I hope they have captured his face when he walked in!"
When asked for her advice on appearing on Great British Menu she said "I think you need to go in really confident as the pressure is quite high. Just be as confident as you can."
Cindy will be appearing on Great British Menu from Wednesday 1st May 2019 representing Wales. You can read the full interview with Cindy Challoner on Women In the Food Industry