*This post contains no spoilers. The Banquet aired on 21st May 2021*
It’s very intentional on my part that Stemettes‘ central ethos is Free. Fun. Food. I’ve loved eating for as long as I can remember, and have been known on occasion to include my love for Nandos as a core part of my identity.
Great British Menu is a show I’ve watched for years, alongside many other Food-related programmes. Each year has a different theme to which chefs from across the UK submit menus, in order to reach a final banquet. Last year’s theme was Children’s Literature. This year it was The Great British Invention. And thus, the show’s production company Optomen knew this was entirely up my street. I watched the competition heats with excitement as contestants created delicious-looking dishes around Ada Lovelace, the founding of the Web and other notable moments in British Innovation History.
Due to my ahem special dietary requirements (for those who have now caught up on iPlayer, yes I was one of the two you-know-whats), it was decided that rather than joining as a guest judge for a specific round of the competition, I should keynote at the Banquet! For this, I had a special task – to write a 1 minute poem or prose piece to kick off proceedings. This made the final cut amongst some fab people – like Ruth Amos, Dr Angela Saini and *the* Prof Sarah Gilbert – from across Science and Showbiz, with the excellent backdrop of the Jodrell Bank telescope near Manchester.
Special thanks go to Stemette Society members Jessica Levett and Isabella Topley. They were a key part of my creative process and offered help to get me going!
In the magic of TV, some parts went missing, so, for posterity, here’s my composition in full:
Welcome one and all.
I’ve always loved Maths, Technology and helping others, so it is with great excitement on an occasion like this, that I bring you a recipe for one of our best known national dishes – the Great British Invention. I’ve adapted it from the likes of Ada Lovelace, Sarah Guppy, Elizabeth Anionwu and Sarah Gilbert.
Served up for centuries and enjoyed across the world in so many forms – you’ll need to give this recipe a go several times to get it right. Failure is a big part of the process – and it’s what makes inventions even greater.
Now, prepare your three key ingredients.
The first is Technology, which is Scientific knowledge being used for practical purposes.
The second is Innovation, which introduces something new: a thing or a method.
The final ingredient is the essence of British – from the diversity of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Across all genders, all creeds, all classes and all ages.
Mix them together, then garnish with Thyme.
Pepper with Patience and Perseverance.
The Great British Invention is served.
It was a fantastic day out, and I made sure to thank Prof Gilbert for her service and for all she’s done in these times. I can’t wait to see what next year’s theme is.
If you’re able to watch the episode, you’ll also spot me doing my best impression of a food critic. Although the more asparagus you eat, the harder it is to find new adjectives to describe its taste.
– Peace, aimafidon