Contestants relishing North East chilli jam challenge
Nov 12 2010 by Katharine Capocci, The Journal
A CHILLI jam challenge is set to warm up a chilly November day and Jesmond Dene House, the venue for the competition, is turning up the heat, as Katharine Capocci finds out.
CHEFS at boutique hotel Jesmond Dene House in Newcastle have thrown down the gauntlet for a fiery challenge guaranteed to bring some chilli heat to a chilly November day.
The heat is on as chilli jam-makers across the region positively relish the opportunity to take part in the inaugural North East Chilli Jam Challenge.
The competition, with its emphasis on fun and friendly rivalry, is open to all, both amateurs and professional chefs alike, and will be held in the dramatic setting of the Great Hall at the Jesmond hotel on Sunday, November 21.
The challenge, which has snowballed into something of an event, incorporates a three-course lunch, all proceeds of which will go to St Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth, Newcastle.
It all began with a casual remark by one of Jesmond Dene House’s directors, Peter Candler, to the hotel’s chefs about the excellence of his home-grown chillies and home-made chilli jam.
Through word of mouth and a little help from social networking site Twitter, the kitchen challenge has, as they say, developed legs and grown into a full-scale event.
More than 25 competitors including award-winning North East chefs, suppliers and customers of the hotel are now on board for the competition.
Their closely guarded recipes for the moreish savoury relish, which goes well with cheeses and cold cuts of meat, as well as burgers and hot chicken, have been dusted off, the quantities of chillies to peppers and tomatoes – and other vital spicy ingredients – all carefully calculated.
Those taking part include Jesmond Dene House’s Peter Candler, sous chef Michael Penaluna and head chef Pierre Rigothier. Other prestigious names from the culinary world include chefs David Coulson and John Calton, North East finalists on BBC’s MasterChef: The Professionals, who made it into the final three; Dave Kennedy of the Black Door Group; Simon Walsh of the Barrasford Arms, Northumberland; Robbie Bell of Bistro 21, Durham; Andy Drape of Barn Asia, Newcastle; Simone and Ian Clarkin of delicatessen Mmm… in Newcastle’s Grainger Market; and Battlesteads Hotel in Wark, Northumberland, newly crowned Best Pub in Britain in the Great British Pub of the Year Awards.
Peter Candler, who grows his own tomatoes and chillies in the garden of his home at Aykley Heads, Durham, explains: “The interesting thing to me about chilli jam is that it is not about technique but all about taste and flavour, and therefore having a good palate which means anyone can make it, from a chef to an amateur like myself.”
Peter is a keen gardener and about six years ago had a surplus of tomatoes and chillis grown in his garden. He uncovered a recipe for chilli jam from famed restaurant, Rockpool, in Sydney, Australia, which he has since modified over time to come up with his own recipe.