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Robinsons; licnesee Martin Barnes and celebrity chef Simon RimmerWith the challenge to dish up a recipe with beer, our nation’s favourite drink, as a key ingredient, the second ‘Have you got the bottle’ Chef’s Challenge hit new heights of drama. Not only did the finalists face Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch Celebrity chef, Simon Rimmer, but they also had to impress a guest list of over 200 at the Robinsons Brewery annual Cheshire Tenants lunch at Nunsmere Hall – no pressure then!

The diners all placed their votes and the winning dish – with a miniature short crust Old Tom ale pie, served with a venison flank fritter, Old Tom Ale sauce, saffron new potato and carrot purée, created by Head chef Billy rel="noopener noreferrer" Doyle – was the George & Dragon, Holmes Chapel. Very tasty!

Martin Barnes, Tenant of the George & Dragon, was thrilled with the win:

We’re so glad we put ourselves forward for this competition. Yes, at times it was a little stressful, but having a celebrity chef come to the pub and try our food gave the whole team a great buzz.  We were really happy to have made it to the final… anything after that we saw as a bonus and, knowing we were up against Craig from the General Burgoyne, we knew it was going to be a tough challenge to come out with the win. Then the Tenants Lunch was a whole different experience; catering for that amount of people in one sitting, whilst competing in the challenge was an achievement in itself! Naturally we were delighted when the result was read out!”  

Winning dish - miniature short crust old tom ale pie Giving the George & Dragon a run for their money was last year’s winner, Craig Sherrington, tenant and chef at The General Burgoyne, Great Urswick. Craig’s winning dish – Peanuts and a Pint – wowed the judges last year and has since become somewhat of a legend in Cumbria. This year’s entry – Craig’s Chocolate Orange Fondant, served with a dark smooth ice cream and a Dizzy Blonde Tuille – came in a nail-biting second.

Commenting on the Chefs Challenge, Simon Rimmer said: “Over the past two years, Robinsons’ Chef’s Challenge has given tenants the opportunity to showcase the extent of their culinary creativity and ability – this year the George & Dragon’s pie was the show stopper. When I cut into it, the aroma and flavour of the Old Tom ale really came through, and the venison fritter was a great modern contrast to a great ‘best of British’ dish!

Chris Whittleworth, Robinsons Catering Development Manager, who organised the Challenge, was delighted with the whole event:

We’ve all been very impressed with the high standard of entries – especially given that they have had to reproduce these restaurant standard dishes on a scale that was completely incomparable with the size of their everyday pub operations.

This was the perfect platform for Robinsons to exhibit their passion for beer and food matching on such a large scale, whilst also showcasing some of the supreme talent in their pub estate...and the finalists did not disappoint! A range of cooking techniques such as ‘sous vide’ were even used with some of the entries; just another example of how Robinsons’ tenants and chefs are evolving and constantly striving for perfection and consistency.

Winning dish, Duo of Venison, has gone down a storm with customers at the George & Dragon in Holmes chapel – so much so, that tenant Martin Barnes and Head Chef Billy Doyle have promoted this succulent starter rel="noopener noreferrer" to a show stopping main course.

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