Top Peebles chef Ally McGrath is looking to take on the best cooks in the country as he appears in the 11th series of the Great British Menu.
The programme kicks off this week with the Scottish heats – and Ally, who opened Osso in his native Peebles in 2007 after earning his stripes under the likes of Richard Corrigan – is the only chef in this year’s series currently plying his trade in Scotland.
While Ally could not say how things had gone ... and we would never print such a spoiler anyway ... he did say that he wholly enjoyed the heat.
He said: “The experience was absolutely superb. I was extremely stressed and it was a lot of hard work.
“I have never done anything like it before – and neither had the other two contestants.
“It’s something you get used to seeing your food heroes doing, and here you are doing it yourself.”
Ally and his wife Helen bought out their partner in 2014 and run Osso as a relaxed, welcoming, family-friendly venue serving up local produce in an unfussy, natural way.
Osso is the only Borders restaurant to hold a coveted Bib Gourmand Award in the 2016 Michelin Guide, for the 6th year in a row.
Osso will be offering diners the chance to sample Ally’s competition dishes in the restaurant from tomorrow (September 2).
He said: “We have already won awards, but the show should put us on a different level.
“It’s a difficult business, but when the show airs this week, I hope that our phone will barely be on the hook.”
In the show, Ally is up against fellow Scots Adam Handling, of The Frog in London, and Michael Bremner, who opened 64 Degrees in Brighton in 2013.
All three will have to impress judge Daniel Clifford, chef-patron of Midsummer House in Cambridge and The Flitch of Bacon, Essex.
This year’s brief is cooking British cuisine to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s ‘Great Britons’ and the chefs are competing to cook at the first ever televised banquet at the Palace of Westminster.
It’s set to be a dramatic series as past record scores are equalled then smashed. The regional heats also see one newcomer achieve the highest mark ever given in the competition’s history.
The series airs on BBC 2 at 7.30pm from Monday to Friday.