Eight years ago, when the team at The Ship Wandsworth spotted a tweet that another pub made the best scotch eggs, they knew they had to mount a challenge. And so the Young’s Scotch Egg Challenge was born. Wednesday 21st February saw the biggest competition to date, with 23 entries and over 200 people in attendance at The Canonbury Tavern, Islington. The Ship’s original team – now in various positions elsewhere in the business, were joined by CEO Patrick Dardis who thoroughly enjoyed his pint of Young’s with the eggs!
Compère for the evening was renowned food and drink writer and author of Where Chefs Eat, Joe Warwick, who eggspertly managed proceedings and kept the judges and chefs in check. The chefs all brought their scotch eggs to be blind tasted by our stellar panel of eggspert judges – The Guardian’s Bob Granleese and Felicity Cloake, Restaurant Magazine editor Stefan Chomka and chef and journalist Lisa Marwell.
The hashtag #ScotchEggChallenge went crazy on social channels adding to the buzz. We were so pleased to see how much everyone was enjoying the event and how much interest it generated. There were over 450 tweets over the course of the event and more than 3.5 million impressions on Twitter and 437 posts using #ScotchEggChallenge plus stories and a reach of over 491,000 on Instagram.
Competition was fierce and we were treated to a wide range of imaginative and delicious creations: from a merguez and harissa offering, to a ‘sea-urchin’ egg and even a rather conceptual vegan egg which certainly, uh, divided opinion.
Meedu Saad of The Smoking Goat in Shoreditch was crowned winner for his Thai spiced Tamworth pork egg with fermented crab, Kaffir lime leaves and chilli.
The runner up was Trevor Hunt of the Draper’s Arms (last year’s challenge victors) for his pork, chilli and fennel offering. The judges were split over third place and so awarded joint honours. Matt Hunter from The Star Inn The City, York with his duck breast and confit duck leg with nose to tail pork with crackling crumb and to Tim Anderson of Nanban in Brixton for his tea pickled egg with pork mince flavoured with Scotch bonnet. Out of the 23 pubs that made it to the final, we’re proud to say that three of these were Young’s Pubs, The Alexandra, The Guinea and The Duke’s Head in Putney.
The winning team will be creating a special three course menu at the community kitchen Refettorio Felix in Earl’s Court. This special venture was the chosen charity for the evening and offers delicious and welcoming three course weekdays lunches to vulnerable members of the local community from surplus ingredients that would otherwise be wasted. World famous chefs who have cooked there include Angela Hartnett, Sat Bains, Monica Galetti and Oliver Peyton.
Ahead of the event we auctioned off the 12 best seats in the house in aid of the charity. Winning bidders could sit alongside the press, mingle with the chefs and judges and enjoy all the eggs on offer. There were also specially designed Scotch Egg t-shirts, fashioned by Joe Warwick and available to buy in aid of the community kitchen. We were delighted to raise over £1000 for them.
That’s ‘un-oeuf’ for now, but we’re already looking forward to next year’s event. Come on all you chefs out there – get concocting and practicing your Scotch Egg recipes so we’ll have a ‘cracking’ competition in our ninth year!