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Grantley Hall Head Chef appears on the BBC’s Great British Menu

Pan-Asian Bar & Restaurant Eighty Eight Grantley Hall Head Chef Samira Effa appeared on our TV screens on 23rd January, in the hit BBC cooking competition, Great British Menu.  

This is Samira’s third time competing on the show, previously taking part in the 2019 and 2020 series. Samira has been Head Chef since June 2022 at EightyEight, located at Grantley Hall hotel in on the edge of the picturesque Yorkshire Dales.  

Samira Effa Chef on Great British Menu - Eighty Eight Grantley Hall

DON’T MISS…

In celebration of Samira’s recent appearance on the Great British Menu, a special dessert and cocktail will be available between 26th January – 29th March to try in Bar & Restaurant Eighty Eight.

View Menus and Book your table at Bar & Restaurant EightyEight

Samira Effa Chef at Bar & Restaurant EightyEight Grantley Hall Ripon

Interview with Samira Effa 

We spoke with Samira Effa ahead of her Great British Menu episode airing on our TVs, to get an insight into her life as a recognised Head Chef in Yorkshire and her experience on the show.

What inspired you to become a chef?

My family certainly inspired me, my mum and dad used to cook a lot around me when I was younger. I’ve had quite an eclectic upbringing, I was born in Huddersfield, but my mum is from Iran and my dad is from Nigeria, so I’ve been brought up around so many different types of cuisines. 

My mum used to say to me that I would sit with her and watch cooking programmes when I was really young. I don’t remember doing this, but clearly, the idea that I wanted to become a chef started very early on.

For someone who hasn’t visited Restaurant EightyEight yet, can you tell us what they can expect?

Bar & Restaurant EightyEight at Grantley Hall is an Asian-fusion restaurant. We use local Yorkshire produce and Asian ingredients and incorporate those together into flavourful dishes. We have many Asian influences in our restaurant, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and so many more.

Pan-asian chinese small plates

Are there any signature dishes at Restaurant Eighty Eight that are a must-try when visiting?

There’s one dish that I put on the menu when I first became Head Chef at EightyEight in Grantley Hall, and it’s remained on the menu ever since – the Cauliflower satay dish. It’s one of our vegan dishes that also sits on the tasting menu as well. It’s probably one of the most well-received dishes surprisingly as it doesn’t contain meat or fish. We actually have a fully vegan tasting menu that sits alongside our standard 8 at EightyEight tasting menu, both of which are really popular with guests.

How would you describe your overall cooking style?

I would say my cooking style is very diverse, I don’t stick to just one type of cooking. I like to cook with lots of different flavours which is why the job at Eighty Eight was perfect, it allowed me to immerse myself into this type of cookery and it’s something completely different to what I’ve done before, every day I’m learning about different ingredients.

What inspires you when creating the menus at EightyEight?

I would say the biggest inspiration for me is what I like to eat. When I’m writing menus that is one of my focal points. I speak to the other chefs in the kitchen and we eat out a lot so you get inspiration from anywhere; different restaurants, online, in books or even just day-to-day life. I’m inspired by a lot of things.

Bar & Restaurant Eighty Eight Grantley Hall light blue interior

What would you say has been your biggest achievement in your career?

Appearing on the Great British Menu is up there. I got asked to do it maybe four or five years ago the first time and now this time is my third time in the competition. It’s really humbling to be noticed for your cooking and asked to be part of such a prestigious show. It’s such hard work when you’re on there but the reward from it is amazing.

What is your favourite ingredient and why?

At the moment one of my favourite things to use would be different types of chilli. They’ve all got different strengths and different aromas that you can use for a variety of sauces, all making completely different impacts on a dish. 

Is there anything in the kitchen you can’t live without and why?

My chefs. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without my team. From my sous chef to the kitchen porters to the restaurant manager at EightyEight at Grantley Hall to the servers and the people on the pass who are taking the food out, it’s the team. I wouldn’t be able to do my job without them.

Samira Effa Head Chef at Eighty Eight Grantley Hall in the kitchen

Who would you say is your favourite chef and why?

There are a few chefs that I’ve worked with who inspire me the most. In Edinburgh, I worked for a chef called Paul Kitching, who sadly passed away just over 2 years ago. He was my first insight into a Michelin Star kitchen. He’s been a big inspiration for me throughout my career because not only did I get to learn about flavour combinations, but his palette was probably one of the most interesting palettes that I ever worked with, but he also taught cleanliness and how to keep your kitchen clean.

Then there’s another chef I used to work with when I worked down in Cornwall called Guy Owen. At the time we were working at The Idle Rocks in Cornwall. He taught me about food but also management style, how you should run your kitchen, how you should run the team and how to write the menus. 

So this is your 3rd time appearing on The Great British Menu. How was it this time around?

At first, it was really daunting because this was the third time I was appearing. In the end, you just want to do well. Once the brief is given, you get excited about it and work extremely hard. When it comes to filming it can feel very nerve-racking, but after that, you settle and enjoy the experience. It was really nice in the end, seeing the production team and working with the other chefs.

Would you say you did anything differently compared to your last two appearances?

I don’t think so. I think I stuck to my guns and stayed true to myself. did the same as what I believe in. I had great support from the team at Eighty Eight and Grantley Hall and in my home life. I cooked the way I had been taught, it’s what I do every day.

Samira Effa and judges on Great British Menu

For anyone going on the show for the first time, what advice would you give to them?

Just stick with it. It can be very hard work as you have to do it alongside your day job. Sometimes it can feel like a bit of a snowball effect, but in the end, it is so rewarding that you kind of forget how hard the process was.

There have been times when I’ve done the dish for Great British Menu and I’m happy with it, then a couple of weeks later I’ll plate it up again, hate it and want to make so many changes. Just stick to what you’re doing and be confident in what you believe in and what you are cooking.

Will diners be able to try any of your GBM dishes in Bar & Restaurant EightyEight?

We wanted to be able to offer our guests an element of the show to try for themselves, so a special course and cocktail will shortly be available for guests in Bar & Restaurant Eighty Eight that celebrates my Great British Menu appearance. Keep an eye on Eighty Eight and Grantley Hall’s social channels for more information to come soon!

Have you got any tips for someone wanting to start a career in the hospitality industry?

I think the biggest tip is you need to know what you’re getting into. It’s known as a hard industry. You have dips and work long hours but you have to be truly in it. If you’re coming into this industry you need to have passion for what you do and really care about it. There will be times when you won’t be able to socialise with your friends. But if you care about what you do, then the reward from it is great.

Eighty Eight Grantley Hall Ripon Exterior Twilight

The 19th series of The Great British Menu started on Tuesday 23rd January on BBC Two, with Samira’s region, the North East and Yorkshire being the first in the series to compete this year. This year the series theme is celebrating the Olympics and Paralympics and is presented by Andi Oliver, with regular judges, the previous two-time banquet winner, Tom Kerridge, restaurateur Nisha Katona and comedian and food podcast broadcaster, Ed Gamble. 

Bar & Restaurant Eighty Eight at Grantley Hall extends a warm invitation to all food enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and adventurers to savour the culinary magic of the new menu crafted by Head Chef Samira Effa.

In celebration of Samira’s recent appearance on the Great British Menu, a special dessert and cocktail will be available between 26th January – 29th March to try in Bar & Restaurant EightyEight.

Opening Times
Monday – Sunday: 6 – 10 pm

View Menus and Book your table at Bar & Restaurant EightyEight

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Written by

Georgia Suggitt

24/01/2024

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