James Cochran is the ‘Champion of Champions’ on BBC Two’s Great British Menu 2018, following the final banquet to celebrate 70 years of the NHS. Cochran, who is currently embroiled in a naming and trademark dispute with his former employers, and recently opened 1251 in Islington, triumphed alongside fellow London chef Tom Brown, of Cornerstone in Hackney Wick.
Cochran’s starter, “Cep-tional”, consisted of cep brioche, a cep custard-filled cylinder, savoury soil, cep marmalade, sliced ceps, and truffle mayonnaise. The dish paid tribute to the NHS doctors and nurses who treated his mother, who died of cancer, while showcasing her love of foraging. Brown’s dish, ‘Poor Man’s Goose,’ brought a whole honey and sesame-glazed duck to the table, a recipe Brown discovered in an NHS archive while doing research for the show. The duck is served with a duck sausage, carrot puree, and a potato croquette with cheddar from Brown’s native Cornwall.
The two chef reflected on the series’ end on Instagram, with Cochran paying tribute to his mother as well as his fellow chefs:
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No caption needed top fucking boys made the experience so much more fun. I remember it was Liverpool 2-1 against spurs before the banquet started and all I kept hearing was mane, mane, Salam, Salah before I was about to serve the banquet and Harry Kane scored in the 93rd minute!! Need I say anymore @chef_ellisrobertbarrie @cheftombrown #ladsladslads #topboys #fam #greatchefs #gbmwinners
The London pair won through to the final banquet after national heats pitting 24 chefs against each other — subject to a striking gender imbalance of 19 men to just five women. Cochran’s triumph comes in the 13th series of the long-running BBC show, which has gone through many format changes since its launch: this is the first time that the judges have crowned a ‘Champion of Champions.’