Professional chefs and amateur cooks will be hoping they have the recipe for success when they go head-to-head in a culinary competition in aid of Britain’s wounded servicemen and women.
The knives will be out – literally – on March 25 when scores of the North East’s top chefs will line up alongside the cream of the region’s home cooks for a savoury pie challenge to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity.
Terry Laybourne and his 21 Hospitality Group, Jesmond Dene House, Six Restaurant at Baltic, Close House Hotel in Northumberland and former North East Chef of the Year David Kennedy’s Food Social and River Café teams, are among the professionals who have already signed up for what is being billed as the “culinary event of the year.”
Entries are also flooding in from home gastronomes keen to pit their pies against the best in the business.
It is hoped the one-off contest with its emphasis on fun and friendly rivalry will raise more than £5,000 for Help for Heroes.
The Savoury Pie Challenge has been organised by David Kennedy, fellow chef Simon Walsh from Close House and Ken Holland of North Country Growers.
It follows on from a hotly contested chilli jam tournament held at Jesmond Dene House 16 months ago which also set professionals against amateurs in support of St Oswald’s Hospice.
Around 40 North East chefs, suppliers and customers came together for that clash, which was won following blind tastings by the judging panel by kitchen hopeful Ken Holland – who had also helped organise the event!
The Savoury Pie Challenge – which is being hosted by David Kennedy at his Food Social restaurant at The Biscuit Factory commercial art gallery in Newcastle – is expected to attract double that number of entries.
And with food connoisseur Ken again entering the fray, he is the contender everyone will want to beat.
David Kennedy says the pie challenge “promises to be a great day; the culinary event of the year. It’s a chance for professional local chefs and amateur cooks alike to pit themselves against each other while raising money for a great cause.”
Help for Heroes is a charity close to David’s heart. His brother Michael, 47, has just come out of the RAF Regiment – the air force’s ground fighting unit – where he helped prepare service personnel for duty in Afghanistan.
Before that he was the main intelligence gatherer in Afghanistan on four tours of duty. He is currently working in Malaysia.
David – whose father and grandmother also served in the RAF – says: “Michael has friends who have been severely injured and some who unfortunately never came home alive. Through Michael I know how tough it is for the wounded to not only come to terms with their injuries but adapt to their circumstances.
“Help for Heroes is a vital lifeline in the rehabilitation of our brave servicemen and women, and I would love to raise at least £5,000 for them.
“We’re charging £20 to enter, which includes attendance at the event, a welcome drink and social nibbles, and there will also be a raffle and other money raising activities on the afternoon.
“Every penny raised is earmarked for Help for Heroes.
“We already have a stellar line-up of professional chefs who have come on board to support this event and I know that everyone is working feverishly to come up with the perfect winning pie recipe.
“Everyone I have spoken to – professional and amateur alike – is very excited about the competition and up for the challenge. No-one wants to see Ken win again.
“We all want to win; it’s professional pride. But at the end of the day I hope the biggest winner will be Help for Heroes.”
Judges for the occasion will include festival director of Eat! NewcastleGateshead, Simon Preston, Journal Taste editor, Katharine Capocci, BBC Radio Newcastle presenter Jonathan Miles, restaurateur and chairman of the North East Culinary Trade Association, Douglas Jordan, and local Help for Heroes Tyne and Wear co-ordinator Alan Saddler. They will be looking for taste, flair, and originality in the savoury recipes.
The champion will again be picked on a blind tasting with first prize a meal for up to eight people cooked by David in the victor’s home.
But the biggest prize for contestants will undoubtedly be taking the 2012 Savoury Pie Challenge crown. “Forget Michelin stars and AA rosettes,” David says. “Knowing you’re the creator of the best savoury pie in town will hit all that for six.”
There is still time to enter the Savoury Pie Challenge. Go to www.foodsocial.co.uk where you will find more information and the competition rules, or call (0191) 260 5411.
The closing date for entries is March 21, 2012. The event itself will be held from 3pm on March 25 at David Kennedy’s Food Social @ The Biscuit Factory, 16 Stoddart Street, Shieldfield, Newcastle, NE2 1AN.