This is the sixth year French bakery manufacturer Déli- france, which has over 600 retail outlets worldwide, has thrown down the gauntlet in search of the best buttie.
As part of the International Sandwich Challenge, six UK finalists went head to head at Fawsley Hall, Northamptonshire, last week to create a sandwich that was both original and met strict nutritional criteria.
An ITV camera crew, as well as the local radio and press, flocked to see the sandwich makers battle it out.
The winning sandwich was unanimously voted the favourite by the judging panel, which included celebrity TV chef Ed Baines.
Dubbed the ’best sandwich in the UK’, Sunday Best is made using champion Adrian Brown’s favourite foods, including sirloin steak, onion and ginger marmalade, rocket and horseradish mayonnaise in a rustic Fougassette bread roll.
"I can’t believe I’ve taken the first prize, it’s such an honour to win the UK final," says Brown, who is a chef at Reading restaurant Bartlett Mitchell. "I simply made my favourite sandwich and it seems to have won the hearts and taste buds of the judges. I only hope it does the same for the international panel in Paris."
Competitors had to choose one of the 18 Délifrance breads, ranging from the newly launched DeliVital omega 3 baguette to a Rustique ciabatta. Délifrance supplies supermamrkets like Waitrose and Booths, craft bakeries and foodservice outlets.
Runner up, Nigel Staines from Norwich, chose the omega 3 roll and delighted the judges with a baked salmon and Asian coleslaw with minted yoghurt sandwich. The recipe was inspired by working as executive chef at the Hotel Sandjaja in Palembang, Indonesia. Staines says: "The carrots were grown in my eight-year-old daughter’s vegetable patch, while the free range eggs were from a local producer, where the chickens roam free around the farm. I love the farm, as does my wife Clare and daughter Maria."
In third place was Jamie Clark, head chef of Glasgow’s Little Italy. He was winner of the UK Délifrance International Sandwich challenge in 2000 and 2002. In 2003 he came second in the World Final. His sandwich was called Multifusion, which was made with marinated Malaysian chicken, combined with pesto, mascarpone and lettuce served on a Délifrance multicereal half baguette.
The other three finalists included last year’s UK winner Edward Antonini with a Mixed Bean Salsa, Graham Bell with Tuna-tastic and Graham Crump, chairman of the British Culinary Federation and executive chef at the University of Warwick, with a Russet Chicken sandwich.
Crump says: "I wanted to create something using local produce, which is why I chose chicken with Berkswell cheese and a red cabbage marmalade in a Délifrance Miche bread."
The judges presiding over this year’s event included TV chef and restaurateur Ed Baines, food consultant Nellie Nichols, nutritionist Fiona Hunter, International Sandwich and Snack News managing editor Simon Ambrose and Pret A Manger creative chef Nick Sandler.
The leader of the judging panel, Nellie Nichols, who is listed as one of the 100 most influential women in Britain, said: "The UK sandwich market has become increasingly competitive. Adrian produced what is a quintessentially British sandwich using much loved ingredients, such as steak and horseradish, while giving it a twist with onion and ginger marmalade. It was delicious, looked good and there’s no doubt it will be a strong contender in Paris nex year. He stands a really good chance of upholding the UK’s title of ’best sandwich in the world’."
TV chef Ed Baines co-presents Sunday Feast on ITV1 and has previously filmed his own series for UKTV Food. He runs three London restaurants and was the official Armani chef. "Sandwiches are a huge part of the British way of life," he says. "We all thought Brown’s sandwich was the clear winner but there was a lot of debate. The panel’s experience and opinion on what makes a good sandwich greatly differs, as we took into account commercial viability, as well as creativity and nutritional content."
Brown’s Sunday Best will compete for Délifrance’s title of the ’Best Sandwich in the World’ in the Sandwich World Cup, held in Paris next year. The winner will receive an all expenses paid weekend in a chateau set in the wine region of Bordeaux.
Délifrance’s MD Ian Dobbie says: "We would all like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Adrian for his fantastic win and wish him the very best of luck when he goes head to head with the best in the world next March." n
=== How to make the winning sandwich ===
1 Season and chargrill 75g sirloin steak
2 Bake Fougassette Nature sandwich roll and leave
3 Slice bread and spread crème fraiche on base
4 Lay rocket in middle
5 Drizzle with horseradish mayonnaise
6 Place steak on top of leaves
7 Finish with onion and ginger marmalade then serve