Making pots for BBC2’s Great British Menu

The exciting news that Mark McCabe would be a contestant on the BBC’s Great British Menu 2023 came whilst Bill was working with him on bespoke tableware for The Ethicurean. Bill was thrilled when Mark asked him to create unique tableware to present two of the dishes he was developing for the show – his starter and fish dish.  With very little time to play with Bill  worked with Mark to develop ideas. 

The theme of the show was animation and illustration and Mark’s first dish was inspired by Dennis the Menace.  Mark’s take on prison porridge (a beautiful medley of mushrooms and barley) won him an 8 from judge Tom Aiken and everyone loved the props and presentation. 

Mark’s fish dish was inspired by Spindrift a beautiful if “bleak” animated film. His dish was finished off with a smoked yoghurt whey foam which inspired Bill’s unusual approach to decorating the bowls. 

These were both really interesting pieces to make, as neither of them were conventionally thrown and Bill had to step outside of his usual creative processes and get inventive! The Dennis The Menace dishes were formed over a hump mould, incorporating folds to represent the paper of the comic. He then added a thrown foot ring while the pots were still on the mould. 

The Spindrift bowls were made from Rokk, a grey grogged stoneware clay, and then decorated with porcelain bubbles blown through a drinking straw. 

Mark was really pleased with the finished effects and they certainly complemented his beautiful cookery on the show. 

Developing new work with Head Chef Mark McCabe

In 2022 Bill was approached by Mark McCabe Head Chef of the Michelin Green Starred restaurant The Ethicurean and commissioned to develop a new range of bespoke tableware for use in the restaurant. 

Mark came to Bill with specific seasonal dishes in mind, and Bill responded to that brief  designing and making a range of bespoke tableware that showcases Mark’s beautiful and inventive cookery. 

The menu at The Ethicurean is heavily influenced by its surroundings, and by seasonal produce grown in and around the Barley Wood Walled Garden. BIll responded to this sense of “terroir” and connectedness by using clay dug from the garden and ash from apple trees in the orchard to make glazes and decorative slips. Not only does this decoration connect the pots to the garden, they also bring a greater depth of colour, further complementing the dishes created by Mark and his team.

This has been a very collaborative process, including regular visits to the studio by Mark, who was able to see Bill throw first concepts in front of his eyes!  

This collaboration continued when Mark was selected to compete in the Great British Menu 2023