Great British Menu: Devon’s top chef to appear on BBC cooking show

A Devon chef at one of the region’s top gastropubs is set to make her television debut next week.

Charlotte Vincent, head chef at the award-winning Five Bells Inn in Clyst Hydon, will appear on BBC Two’s prestigious cooking show, Great British Menu, on Tuesday March 15 at 8 p.m.

Great British Menu returned to screens last month for the 17th consecutive year. The regional format sees Britain’s top chefs compete for the chance to cook for a spectacular four-course banquet. This year’s final will take place at Alexandra Palace in London.

Hosted by Andi Oliver, the new trio of judges includes Michelin-starred chef and former GBM champion Tom Kerridge, fellow restaurateur Nisha Katona, and comedian and food podcaster Ed Gamble. This year’s theme celebrates the last 100 years of British broadcasting.

Charlotte’s home, the Five Bells in Clyst Hydon is a Grade II listed 16th century thatched pub near Cullompton which was saved and taken over by James and Charlie Garnham in December 2017.

In the second half of 2021, the team won Taste of the West gold, Food and Drink Devon gold and, for the first time, were double finalists at the Great British Pub Awards. Charlotte’s first appearance on the show comes just 2 months after the business was again named one of the UK’s top 50 gastropubs.

Growing up in Devon, Charlotte joined the British Army straight out of school, working her way up to the rank of corporal while training as a leader. Upon his departure, a decade followed as a two-Michelin pastry chef watched Gidleigh Park in Dartmoor before taking a career break in the kitchen to earn a degree in psychology and human biology, then retrain as a scientist. A return to professional kitchens came when she saw her favorite childhood pub recruiting a head chef in June 2019.

Since joining the team, Charlotte, 42, has made it her mission to create a fully inclusive and calm kitchen where individuals are professionally fed and taught, as well as introducing a vegan, vegetarian offering and gluten-free expanded in the various menus to appeal to a wider range of customers. ‘Sophisticated simplicity’ built solely around the use of seasonal Devon produce with some Nordic influences sums up the style of the food.

Charlotte said: “What an absolute privilege to share a national stage with my peers, to cook from the heart and to fight to represent my home region; the southwest.

“We filmed the whole thing last summer, so it’s been a long wait to see me on the big screen. If you think cooking for a full house on a Saturday night can be stressful, then this is the next level.

“My dishes all tell a story related to the special theme of 100 years of British broadcasting and I’m so grateful for the opportunity – I can’t wait to share the magic of Devon with the rest of the country.”

James Garnham and Charlotte Vincent at the Five Bells Inn in Clyst Hydon.

James Garnham of the Five Bells added: “As owner of the Five Bells, I am so proud of Charlotte – her energy is incredible and that fantastic attitude that we all love is a credit to her profession.

“From the mentorship she gives to our staff, to the ever-evolving style of her cooking and her appearances in front of millions of television viewers.

“As one of Devon’s few female chefs, she sets a very strong example for others interested in joining the industry and advancing her own remarkable and exciting culinary development. Good luck boss.

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