Gravy crisps, a fine dining version of cheesy chips and ice cream with a gravy twist were among the creative concoctions on show at the first World Gravy Championships in Carlisle today.
But the MasterChef style contest was eventually won by Romanian student Andreia Crisan who served up venison loin with a gravy made using blackberries and blackcurrants.
Catering students at Carlisle College had been challenged to demonstrate their gravy skills by serving up a gravy boat with accompanying dish to celebrate the city’s role in providing gravy to the rest of the UK through its Comptons Gravy Salt factory.
Seventeen-year-old Scott Melvin who works at the 3AA rosette Cottage in the Wood restaurant at Whinlatter Forest created an upmarket version of that northern classic: cheese, chips and gravy. His dish used haloumi cheese and followed a Canadian recipe for french fries.
Scott, who lives in Crosby near Maryport, won a special award for his innovative cooking that also included ice cream with whoopie pie that included a caramel sauce using gravy salt.
In second place was Rachel Harrison, 18, of Wigton, who also works at the Cottage in the Wood. Her creations included potato and beetroot crisps and salted chicken skin.
But it was 25-year-old Andreia, who works at the George Hotel in Penrith who most impressed the judges; James Hill, owner of the Quarter lounge restaurant and Wilson and Janette Deyermond, owners of Teasdales Confectionery which makes Comptons Gravy Salt.
James Hill, who is a former Carlisle College student and once worked for Gordon Ramsey, said: “It was such a hard competition to judge because everyone has gone off in different directions with beef burgers, vegetarian dishes and even ice cream, but everyone has done a cracking job and I would be happy to serve any of the dishes in my restaurants.”
Janette Deyermond said she was impressed at the skills on show at the college. “Everyone has really been so creative. We like to think of Carlisle as the home of real gravy as we make Comptons here and it’s been brilliant to see these chefs take that idea and run with it.”