Midlands chefs go head to head in ‘versus dinner’ competition
April 12, 2022

It’s not often you see two top chefs go head-to-head. Well, not in real life anyway, without TV cameras, PR hype and Gregg Wallace yelling at them. But it’s happening – and happening this week.

Two of the Midlands’ top chefs, Mike Bullard from The Butchers’ Social whose home is now at the Forest Hotel in Dorridge, and Liam Dillon of The Boat Inn in Lichfield (who once sent me a video message because my friend begged him to by the way) are going to battle it out to be named ‘best chef’ and you can join in if you like.

On Wednesday (13th April), both chefs will prepare and serve a six-course dinner. Three dishes will be cooked by Mike and three by Liam and the guests on the night will score them without knowing who cooked them. Ultimately, the winner will then be crowned best chef in what is a bit of fun but means the lucky buggers there will eat some great dishes from two fabulous chefs all in one place.

Competition dinner

It’s a surprise menu which won’t be unveiled until the night itself, but both guests will showcase their signature styles to give the guests a bit of a clue on who cooked which dish.

The versus dining experience will offer guests six opulent courses, with the winner of the evening announced the following day. With a surprise menu set to be unveiled on the night itself, the pair will both be bringing their signature styles to their dishes in a bid to tip-off guests about whose belong to who.

In case you don’t know them, Liam runs The Boat Inn in Lichfield, which isn’t just Michelin recommended, but is also the only restaurant in Staffordshire to hold 3 AA rosettes. You might recognise him from the BBC’s Great British Menu, where he represented the Midlands in both series 16 and 17.

Mike is also well known in the Midlands, running The Butcher’s Social first in Henley-in-Arden and now at its new home in Dorridge. I’ve been myself and it’s a great place and also just got included in The Times’ list of top Sunday roasts in the country.

Liam said: “I’ve known Mike for some time and we’re great friends, so a bit of competition between us has long been on the cards. This is a great opportunity to go head-to-head and serve up some playful rivalry, while also giving our guests the chance to try our finest menus at the same time. I have huge respect for Mike and all he’s achieved at The Butchers Social at The Forest Hotel so far and I hope Lichfield is as excited as I am to host him at The Boat Inn.”

Mike added: “Liam really is, in my opinion, one of the ones to watch in the Midlands, and his food never disappoints. As a fellow-Midlands chef, it’s been great to see how he’s represented the region on stages like Great British Menu, and shown the rest of the country exactly why our food-scene is one to write home about. It’s going to be tough to beat him… but I’ll certainly be giving it a go!

“Versus dinners like this one are such a fantastic way for guests to enjoy two menus in one sitting, while having a bit of fun at the same time. I have no doubt that it is going to be a fantastic evening, and I for one can’t wait to see who wins!”

I think a few tickets are still available for the competition menu, priced £100 per person. Visit The Boat Inn’s website here for more info. And even if you can’t get there, head to either restaurant for a wonderful feed.