It was like being on a set of a zombie film. Crazed, bloodthirsty zombies pushing one another to get to their victim. Replace the zombies for hundreds of people and the victim for scotch eggs and you have a fairly accurate scene of the scenes at last night’s Scotch Egg competition at the Ship in Wandsworth.
Chefs from around the country competed to win the crowning title, with a celebrity panel casting their critical eyes over the entries.
The judging panel consisted of Eric Lanlard (aka Cake Boy and star of C4’s How to Bake), Gizzi Erskine (just about to launch her Korean pop-up in Shoreditch), Fortnum and Mason’s executive chef Shaun Hill, James Knappett from Bubbledogs and David Constable, creator of Forever Eggsploring blog and the Scotch Egg challenge.
David told us all the eggs were judged on three categories – taste, texture and appearance. "The ultimate Scotch Egg has to have the perfect seasoning and only a quarter of them had that” said Gizzie. “There has been some really clever takes on things, however not everything has worked.”
The panel had the awesome task of chowing through over 24 different varieties of the eggy delicacies including entries from Harwood Arms, Duck and Waffle, The Modern Pantry and many more. Heaving crowds got to watch the kitchens on a live-link screen above the judges panel (see picture). Even Oliver Peyton made a visit to witness the impressive creations that flowed from the kitchen over the next four hours.
Manager of the Ship, Oisin Rogers, told us “We couldn’t be more pleased with the turn out. We’ve been selling Scotch eggs tonight. Last year we sold 140, this year we had sold out of 350 by 8.10pm – we could have easily done another 350 with this crowd.”
The competing restaurants pulled out all the stops with gorgeous combinations such as chorizo with fennel, curried smoked haddock and wild boar, heart and liver. There were a couple that the judges felt didn’t live up to scratch, with the only vegetarian egg getting low marks across the board and a “grim” from Shaun Hill, and one particular black pudding egg earning a “disgusting” from Eric Lanlard.
The waiting crowd came with the promise of Scotch eggs for all and they were not disappointed – trays of extra samples were continually coming out of the kitchen to a frenzy of hands. The amazingly composed compere Melissa Cole did her best to placate the crowds and convince them not to stand on tables just to be in with a chance of getting more samples. And she managed the whole evening beautifully while filling us in with interesting egg facts throughout the night – did you know the second most popular egg after a hen’s egg is the ostrich egg? Well you do now.
Fortnum and Mason kindly supplied all the condiments to go with our eggs and Hot Dinners happily wolfed down piccalillis and chutneys to our hearts' content.
And now to the winners:
The David Constable Best Scottish Egg Award went to Peyton & Byrne for their braised pigs cheek and shoulder, with oatcake and crackling crumb
Bronze: Drapers Arms for their black pudding and pork with panko crumbs
Silver: Hind's Head for their delicious truffled quail egg with a mix of Iberico pork sausagemeat and lardo, coated in breadcrumbs and seasoned with vinegar-infused sal
And the winner - Gold: Bladebone Inn in Berkshire for the most impressive looking truffled “ham, egg and chips” (see picture left) made with duck egg, truffled layer, and a potato and parma ham breadcrumb.
So how did David feel after 24 eggs? “Full, but better than last year – we had to judge 40, which was mayhem!” We can’t wait for next year.