A COMPETITION to find the best sausage roll - a staple of the British menu - has seen a Somerset chef come out on top.

The final of this year’s Great Sausage Roll Off - the eighth competition - on Wednesday (February 5) saw Alan Chilton, head chef at the Bower Inn, in East Bower, near Bridgwater come out on top in the tasty trial.

The Bower Inn is run by the Butcombe Brewery, and another of the chain's chefs - Amber Southon, head chef at the Quarryman’s Arms near Bath - took second place.

Claire Morgan and Angus McKean at Fuller’s Red Lion in Barnes attracts entries from chefs across the country, all striving to win this coveted catering and hospitality industry award.

Beer and food writer Melissa Cole hosted the final, which saw 18 chefs battling for the title of the ultimate sausage roll in a gruelling four-hour live cook off.

And after the gruelling contest, it was Alan who prevailed.

“I’m overwhelmed to have won this award," he said.

"This is the first cooking competition I have ever entered after over 20 years working in kitchens."

Somerset County Gazette:

COLLEAGUES: Alan and Amber at the final

His winning sausage roll drew on some exotic influences to secure top spot.

"My sausage roll was inspired by my travels around India some years ago," he said.

"The day was lots of fun and it was great to meet so many other talented chefs."

And he said he would be celebrating with Amber, who said: “I’m delighted to have come second in this this iconic competition.

"My real passion and skill is in pastry, pies and old school cooking.

"At Butcombe we spend a great deal of time researching Victorian recipes for the pies, pork pies, wellingtons etc, so this was a great fit for me.

"The pork is from Gloucester Old Spot and I added a chutney with orchard fruits of plum, apple and pears from my mum’s garden.

"It’s all about classical heritage food but bringing it up to date.”

Alan’s winning creation was an Indian spiced sausage roll made with Wessex Saddleback pork, fresh chilli, shallots, garlic, coriander, ground ginger, cumin and cinnamon rolled up in a turmeric and carraway rough puff pastry and served with a spiced pork crackling and an apple and tamarind ketchup.

This year’s event also raised money for Hospitality Action, a charity that offers help, advice and support to people who work, or have worked within the hospitality industry in the UK.

The Great Sausage Roll Off’s judging panel included celebrity chef and Sunday Brunch presenter Simon Rimmer, Heart FM DJ Lucy Horobin and Michelin-starred chefs Paul Cunningham and Russell Bateman.

Angus McKean, co-licensee of The Red Lion and founder of The Great Sausage Roll Off, said: “What a year. What a competition.

"I always say the Roll Off line up gets better every year, however, this year the chefs have really out-done themselves.

"The competition was really tough, I couldn’t call it, the judging panel had a tough decision to make, but Alan is a worthy winner.”

Claire Morgan, fellow co-licensee of The Red Lion, added: “Forget Christmas, forget Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, The Sausage Roll Off is what our calendar revolves round.

"I am delighted that we have been able to raise so much for Hospitality Action too. Our customers’ generosity is so humbling, I cannot thank them enough."