Budding chef Alex tastes success with winning pie

Pictured are Andy Bingham New product development Manager at Village Bakery, Spencer Farrell, Danny Grout, Alex Garside, Kieran Windsor Village Bakery and Ken Skates AM.

 A budding chef could see his prize-winning pie on supermarket shelves after rising to the top in a competition organised by a leading bakery.

The chilli con carne pie created by catering student Alex Garside, from Connah’s Quay, was top of the pastry pops with judges from the Village Bakery and with Clwyd South AM Ken Skates.

The Village Bakery had invited students from Coleg Cambria’s sites at Deeside and Wrexham to come up with new pie recipes and the response was so impressive that they had to resort to a bake-off to separate the top six.

The presentations took place at the family firm’s bakery in Minera, on the outskirts of Wrexham.

The bakery employs nearly 400 people and has two other bakeries on Wrexham Industrial Estate where they are building their new £4 million Baking Academy and Innovation Centre.

Alex, 22, a catering and hospitality student at the college’s Deeside campus, won by a short crust from Wrexham students Danny Grout  who entered a Perl Las cheese and broccoli pie and Spencer Farrell, whose lamb and leek creation was also highly commended.

Mr Skates, who is also the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, is an avowed fan of Village Bakery’s products and their success.

He was a guest of honour at the presentations at and was very impressed with the standard of competition.

He said: “The pies were brilliant, the Chilli Con Carne was spectacular. I’ve never quite had anything like it with the pastry as well as the contents so well spiced and flavoured.

“I always enjoy coming to the Village Bakery as much as I enjoy eating their products and I think in the last 12 months I must have eaten my weight in their Welsh cakes.

“My personal favourite is their steak slice which is one of the reasons I run three or four times a week.

“Village Bakery is an incredible company with a really skilled workforce and a fantastic management team.

“What always impresses me is they have the highest degree of quality and creativity and their innovation is non-stop and that’s what has put the company in such a strong and successful position.”

Alex Garside, who wants to become a chef, was delighted with his win which carried with it a £250 cash prize and he said: “It’s from a family recipe which I have adapted into a pie and I’m very pleased with how it came out.

“I’m very proud to have come out on top because the standard of the runners-up and everyone who was in the bake-off was really good.”

Head judge was Andy Bingham, Village Bakery’s new Product Development Manager, and he said they were looking to develop Alex’s chilli con carne pie into a special seasonal product, perhaps for the winter market.

He added: “We’ve seen some fantastic products and some fantastic ideas and it really was very close because all six in the bake-off were very good and there was probably no more than a couple of marks between the top three.

“We have a really good relationship with Coleg Cambria and as baking is the new rock’n’roll we decided to set them a challenge and they have really risen to it and the standard was excellent.”

Mark Robertson, Chef-Lecturer at Cleg Cambria, said: “It has been a really good competition. It required the students to be innovative and creative but also to use application of number in working out the quantities and costing it all out.”

Runner-up Danny Grout, from Penycae, who won £125, said: “It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it. I like the combination of broccoli and stilton cheese but decided to use Perl Las to give it a Welsh flavour.”

And Spencer Farrell, 19, from Gwersyllt, who also won £125, said: “I chose lamb and leek because it is traditionally Welsh and I used rosemary in it and added it to the pastry as well.”