Pubs lose Scotch Egg Challenge for the first time

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Winning entry: Smoking Goat in east London took this year's top spot at the Scotch Egg Challenge
Winning entry: Smoking Goat in east London took this year's top spot at the Scotch Egg Challenge

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A pub failed to win the Scotch Egg Challenge for the first time in the competition's eight-year history.

The winner for 2018, laid-back restaurant the Smoking Goat, in east London, beat more than 20 other finalists to the top spot at the event, which was held at Young's pub the Canonbury in Islington, north London, last night (21 February).

The winning Scotch egg comprised of southern Thai-spiced Tamworth pork with fermented crab, chilli and kaffir lime.

Chefs were invited to make their best creations and were blind-tasted by judges including The Guardian​'s Bob Granleese and Felicity Cloake, Restaurant ​magazine editor Stefan Chomka, as well as chef and journalist Lisa Markwell.

Competition founder and manager of the Guinea Grill, Oisín Rogers, said: “We were very pleased with last night, it was a huge success.

“The winning egg was slightly controversial because it was the first year in the eight the competition has been running that a traditional pub egg with a pork casing didn’t win."

Close call

Top three:

1. Smoking Goat, east London

2. Drapers Arms, Islington, north London

3. The Star in the City, York; and Nanban, Brixton, south London (joint place)

He highlighted how close the competition was, with just half a point between Smoking Goat and last year’s winner, the Drapers Arms in Islington, which came second.

Rogers added: “It was so close that I had to double check all of the scores with the leading judge.”

Judge Stefan Chomka echoed Rogers' comments about the fierce competition.

He said: "This year's competition was the most closely fought yet, with only a half a point separating first and second place.

"Smoking Goat's entry stood out for its originality and powerful flavours – as you would expect from the team – and showed that an incredible Scotch egg doesn't need to be traditional.

"Now that a restaurant has won the competition rather than a pub, the gloves are off and I'm already looking forward to seeing next year's entries."

Point of pride

The Guinea Grill manager highlighted the importance of this long-standing event. He said: “The competition is something that has captured the imagination of pubs particularly. It is a point of pride to have a really good Scotch egg.

“There were 23 entries last night and about 20 of them could have won. The standard and quality of the cooking, execution, ingredients used has really raised the quality of what is being served.”

The event, which has been running since 2010, proved popular with punters as well as pubs.

Rogers said: “The pub was completely packed last night with about 300 people. There was a great atmosphere."

The Smoking Goat can now prepare a three-course meal in Refettorio Felix at St Cuthbert's in Kensington, west London, using the kitchen's daily changing ingredients supplied by London food waste charity, The Felix Project.

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