Samuel McClurkin, head chef at the Dog at Wingham, Canterbury, appeared on series fourteen, episode thirteen, of the 2020 Bafta nominated series on 29 November 2021.
McClurkin said: “The stress levels were really high, as you can see, in the episode everyone was running around constantly.
“We all gave ourselves a little bit too much to do, but you want to challenge yourself because you have to prove yourself.
“You watch yourself back and think you would do certain things differently, but when you're there, you're under so much pressure, you're not really thinking straight. It's easier to assess yourself from a sofa than it is when you're in the studio.”
Monday (29 November) night’s heat saw four professional chefs tackle a twenty-minute technical task set by the shows judges as well as producing a ‘signature’ dish of the contestants choosing.
The first two chefs in the twenty-minute technical task were asked to make a prawn, avocado and pepper omelette served with prawn oil, as tasked by judge Marcus Wareing, while the second two, which included McClurkin, were tasked by judge Monica Galetti with producing a chicken kofte, flatbread and a cucumber salad.
Ultimately McClurkin did not cook his chicken through in enough time, though this did not stop him being chosen to go through to the next stage of the competition and judges were pleased with his cucumber salad and flatbread.
McClurkin said: “If I could have a second attempt, I could definitely do it, I would definitely have approached it a little bit differently and I feel like I could have done it in the 20 minutes.
“I would have sped up the mincing machine, I’ve never used one of those machines before.
“We've got a mincer at work I use all the time and another in the butcher's I worked at during lockdown, but the one on the show was different as it had a speed setting, so it was mincing really slowly.
“I realised there was a speed controller and that cost me three or four minutes, which would have been enough time to get me to serve the chicken on the plate.”
For his ‘signature dish’, McClurkin cooked duck breast with pak choi, spicy rosti and pickled cucumber followed by a lapsang souchong tea infused dessert with a black pepper granola, orange syrup and burnt honey.
McClurkin said: “My dessert did really well, Marcus and Greg gave me some amazing feedback, but Marcus said my dessert was like a creme brulee from the east, that really made me happy, It's such an amazing compliment coming from Marcus.
“I like to work with a lot of big, bold flavours, I like to try and get as much flavour into my dessert as possible, when Greg Wallace tasted it and said, wow, there's nothing subtle about that, that just made me really happy as it was exactly what I wanted to do.
“I like to do things that are slightly different, that stand out a little bit more, and that desert definitely did stand out and definitely was a little bit different.”
McClurkin was cheered on not only by his friends and family who watched the episode with him on Monday night’s episode, but by his colleagues at the Dog at Wingham and the local community, with some fifty regulars gathering to watch his heat at the pub.
The Dog at Wingham licensee Marc Bridgen said: “We are immensely proud of what Sam has achieved and continues to achieve throughout this year.”
The TV appearance has already brought more attention to his food at the pub.
McClurkin added: “Being on the show is definitely going to provide an increase in business for the restaurant at the Dog, we've got some really great regulars and we've had enquiries already following the show, the recognition is already coming fast.
“It feels so nice to be supported, really heart-warming that people are backing what I want to do and coming to visit us.”