Ally in bid to serve up some crackers at Wimbledon

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Peebles chef Ally McGrath is back on the telly next week in another attempt to win over the judges in the BBC2 show The Great British Menu.

Ally is the first to admit that he didn’t take it completely seriously last year and made some “silly” mistakes which saw him exit the show following a tie-break situation.

However, he insists that this year he put every effort towards impressing the judges and his fellow contestants.

Ally, from the Osso Restaurant in Peebles, said: “Circumstances were different last year and I didn’t really put in the time. As someone else put it, I didn’t give the show enough respect.

“This year, I have put the time in and, due to that, I’ve put a lot more pressure on myself – it’s much more of an emotional rollercoaster.”

Ally, who is the only Scottish chef in the competition to actually work in Scotland, added: “I am up against two great chefs – Michael Bremner of 64 Degrees in London, who I was up against last year, and newcomer Angela Malik, a private caterer in London, who hails from Edinburgh.”

While Ally says he was able to give more time to the show this year, he appears to be just as busy as ever, as his team have just taken over the catering contract.

His restaurant, Osso, is the only Borders restaurant to hold a coveted Bib Gourmand Award in the 2017 Michelin Guide – for the seventh year in a row.

He returned to his native Peebles in 2007 after earning his stripes under the likes of Richard Corrigan, and he runs Osso with his wife Helen.

This year, the chefs are competing to create a dish worthy of being served up at the banquet at the All England Tennis Club, in celebration of 140 years of Wimbledon.

As such, the dishes must celebrate “A taste of summer”, reflecting the tastes, smells and colours of this time of year and paying tribute to the history and prestige of the Wimbledon Championships.

Guest judges will include tennis royalty, icons such as ue Barker, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski and Judy Murray.

Holding eight Michelin stars between them, the veteran judges include Daniel Clifford, Angela Hartnett, Nathan Outlaw, Tom Aitkens and Michael O’Hare.

For each region, the chefs will each create a starter, fish dish, main course and dessert for the judges.

The two contestants with the highest score will then compete against each other to go through to the final heats and a chance to cook at the banquet.

As he did last year, Ally says he will be offering the dishes he has created for the competition at the restaurant.

He said: “They will be available after the programme has aired on the telly.

“The four courses – starter, fish, main and sweet can be all tried, however, there is a lot of eating in the four courses, so what people did last year was share a couple of them.”

The Scottish heats will be shown from Monday, May 29 to Friday, June 2, on BBC2 at 7.30pm each evening.