David Woods, executive chef at Sofitel London Gatwick, claimed first place in a Shepherd's Pie Challenge organised by stock base manufacturer Major International in conjunction with the Craft Guild of Chefs and the British Culinary Federation.
Woods beat four other finalists in the contest at Major's Innovation Centre in Northamptonshire last week. His recipe included lamb's kidneys and an original presentation featuring skewered sweetbreads and nasturtium flowers which impressed a judging panel made up of members of the two chefs' organisations, plus Major's executive development chef, Brian Eastment.
David Bryant, managing director at Major said: "We were looking for chefs to push the boundaries with the traditional staple ingredients of minced lamb, onions and potatoes and come up with new recipes giving shepherd's pie an innovative twist. David even went as far as organising for the first UK crop of the speciality potato variety, the Heritage Red King Edward, to be harvested for the competition. All credit goes to David for a tremendous effort, he is a very deserving winner."
Completing the line-up of finalists were James Rogers of the Dog Inn, Grundisburgh; Simon Webb of Restaurant Associates, KMPG; Vince Cottam of Westminster Kingsway College; and Alison Azzopardi of Sofitel London Gatwick.
Woods' prize is a champagne reception, dinner and overnight accommodation at a five-star London hotel and two tickets to a show.
By Lesley Foottit