The heat is really turning up in pub kitchens up and down the country this Autumn as Stonegate Pub Company launches its Great Traditional Cook-Off Competition.

The Company, which has run a hugely successful ‘National Pie Competition’ for several years, has extended the competition this year to allow entrants to create any main course dish of their choice.

Any member of staff within the pub company’s 151-strong Great Traditional Pub division may enter, submitting a detailed specification of the dish, including its name, the ingredients used and the cooking methods. Entrants will be judged on taste, presentation, feasibility, marketability and cost. Each area manager will put forward the best dish for his or her area with the final ‘Cook-Off’ held on 30th January at Stonegate Pub Company’s development kitchen in central Birmingham. Judges will include food industry experts alongside Stonegate’s CEO, Toby Smith.

The winning dish will be placed on the menus of all of Stonegate’s Great Traditional Pubs when it re-launches in April 2014. Last year’s winner was Ruth Armstrong, the kitchen manager of the Akenside Traders in Newcastle upon Tyne, who bowled over the judges with her Curry Lover’s Pie. The pie has subsequently wowed Stonegate’s customers too and as a result is set to stay on the menu this year.

Perry Huntley, Stonegate Pub Company’s Head of Food Development said, “The quality of pies entered into our pie competition over the years has been really superb culminating with Ruth’s unique curry-lovers pie which merged two of the British public’s great culinary favourites – the pie and curry. The dish has proven so popular we have decided to keep it on the menu.

But, after several years of pie competitions we feel we’ve exhausted most culinary combinations and so have extended the competition now to include any main dish. This allows for huge scope and I’m truly excited to see the innovation and skill of our kitchen teams that I have no doubt will shine through”, added Perry.