Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Pasty makers vie for Oggy oscars

Head judge Dave Meneer leads his team of judges at the World Pasty Championships

Competitors from across the UK - and as far away as the US - celebrated the Cornish pasty at the second world championships.

Around 2,000 pasties were sampled as professional bakers and amateurs pitted their culinary wits against each other at the event at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

While some competed in the traditional categories - where beef, potato, onion and turnip are cooked in a side-crimped pastry casing - others experimented with ingredients from across the globe.

And although none of the 125 entrants dared try using horse meat as an ingredient, others pushed the boundaries by incorporating seafood, rare spices and chocolate into their recipes. Head judge Dave Meneer said the championships - known as the Oggy Oscars - had been a great celebration of the dish. He said: "This is all about finding the best pasty in the world, which probably sounds a bit over the top. We started it last year and this year has been even better with even more people taking part."

The pasty is both culturally and historically important to the West country, and was favoured by miners who used the crimped crust as a handle to eat while working underground. In 2011 Cornish pasties joined a growing list of Europe's privileged foods whose names are protected.

This year's championships were the first since the so-called "pasty tax" came into force. Chancellor George Osborne originally announced plans to raise £110 million by levying 20% VAT on hot baked goods at the Budget. The move prompted a huge outcry, with critics accusing ministers of waging class warfare against pasty eaters. Mr Osborne later staged a partial climbdown, following a campaign by local newspaper the Western Morning News, by exempting products that are left to return to "ambient temperatures" on shelves in bakeries and supermarkets.

Reigning champion Billy Deakin was the big winner, retaining the top spot in the Cornish Pasty Amateur category.

Henry Cornish, 14, son of last year's Cornish Pasty and Open Savoury Professional winner Graham Cornish, won the Open Savoury Junior category, while his brother Simon came second in the Cornish Pasty Junior category.

Web designer Mr Deakin, 34, from Mount Hawke in Cornwall, said: "It feels great to win. Last year it was a bit of a surprise but this year I really wanted to win. I made the same pasty I always make at home and the judges obviously liked it as much as I do. I put a lot of effort and time into it yesterday - I wanted to make sure it was as good as it could be."

Pop singer-turned-cookery book author Paul Young was among the special guests today, signing copies of his latest recipe collection, inspired by exotic flavours from around the globe. He said he was a lover of the common pasty, but said he also liked the ideas behind some of the unusual recipes entered into the competition.

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