Shropshire Star

Great British Menu: Whitchurch's Stuart Collins wins central region heat

A Whitchurch chef has won the first regional heat of hit BBC Two TV show, Great British Menu and is now through to the national final.

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Stuart Collins

Stuart Collins, chef-patron of acclaimed restaurant Docket no.33 in Whitchurch, won over the judges with his original food dishes on Friday night's show.

The renowned chef, who opened Docket no.33 back in 2017, was crowned winner of the ‘central region’ heat in the first week of the show, with this year’s theme of ‘British innovation’.

Stuart started the week with a solid score of 9/10 from veteran judge Lisa Goodwin Allen for his ‘Take it with a grain of salt’.

The pork cheek dish, which was ‘cooked perfectly’, was inspired by Elsie Widdowson, the food scientist who revolutionised the way the world assessed nutritional values.

His ‘Dissected Maps’ main course also impressed the judge utilising a host of local ingredients including Rose veal from Staffordshire, beer from Walsall and Vitelotte potatoes from Shropshire, receiving a score of 8/10.

Stuart's main course

Following the elimination of Shannon Johnson and Liam Dillon through the week, Stuart and Sabrina Gidda went head-to-head in the regional final on Friday and served all of their dishes in the Judging Chamber to food writer and critic, Matthew Fort, renowned restauranteur Oliver Payton and cook, writer and broadcaster Rachel Khoo alongside guest judge, Helen Sharman who was the first British astronaut in space.

Stuart Collins said: “My game plan was to not be the first to leave as I really wanted to cook all of my dishes for the Veteran Judge. I’d put a lot of effort into developing them all and I would have been massively disappointed to have not served them to Lisa.”

His ‘Radcliffe Road’ dessert, which was inspired by Edgar Hooley who invented smooth tarmac, consisted of dark chocolate, hazelnut praline, nougatine and Earl Grey tea. The dessert was presented as a chocolate bar; the layering representing the layers of a road with a shining glaze. This was accompanied by earl grey tea sorbet, served in mini tin mugs as a nod to ‘builder’s brew’. The dessert was thoroughly enjoyed by guest judge Helen Sharman.

Stuart's dessert

Stuart added: “Being the Central Region Champion of Great British Menu is amazing. It has been such an exciting journey and one that I’ve taken course by course. I certainly didn’t walk into the kitchen expecting this result! It’s an absolute honour to have represented my home region, using the amazing produce that we’re surrounded by here in Shropshire.”

His extensive experience includes working with a host of famous faces, including Gary Rhodes, Michael Caines and Gordon Ramsay before opening his own restaurant with his wife Frances in Whitchurch.

Docket No.33, which has featured for two consecutive years in the prestigious Michelin Guide GB & NI, offers a tasting menu with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.

Stuart and the team will be reopening Docket No.33 again on May 20. The restaurant will open Thursday-Saturday evenings from 7pm. Booking is now live at