The entrants ranged from biscuits to chutneys in a chilli competition testing the culinary skills of students at Writtle College.
The competition was launched after the College grew a crop of Lemon Drop Chillies in its research glasshouse. Students were asked to come up with a new product for the unusual lemon-scented and flavoured (but very hot) chilli pepper.
Today, the entries went before the judges – Head of Higher Education and editor of the book ‘Educated Tastes’ Jeremy Strong, students and chefs Claudio Bincoletto and Ben Leacox & Students’ Union president Freddy Stringer.
After sampling chutneys, sauces and biscuits, James Allnutt was named the winner with his savoury chutney, with Evangelos Achilleos the runner-up with his Shortkick Biscuits.
James, 22, who is in his final year of a BSc (Hons) Horticulture, said: “It’s really good to win and I’m surprised my entry was picked as the winner. I made it last night and it was the first time I have ever made a chutney – I think I might get some Christmas orders now!”
James, who is originally from Chingford but lives in Chelmsford while studying at Writtle College, used shallots, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, sundried tomatoes, carrot, vinegar and Demerara sugar in his chutney – as well as the distinctive bright yellow chilli.
Jeremy, who had a pint of milk on standby while putting the entries through the taste test, said: “I thought this chutney had the right balance – it was sweet but not too sweet and the chilli is distinctively there in the after-taste but not unpleasantly so. The texture is right for a chutney and I can imagine having it with a hard cheese. There are good entries here but this is the clear winner.”