Wyre potato farmers prepare for this year's 'Big' Chip Off
The current king of spuds Peter Taylor has no chip on his shoulder about possibly losing his title at this year's 'Big' Chip Off '“ as he says he intends to win again.
Peter, 68, from Preesall, is preparing for crunch time at the event to be held at Owd Nell’s Tavern, Guys Thatched Hamlet where he will compete with four local potato farmers from St. Michaels-on-Wyre, Preesall, Pilling and Eagland Hill - all hoping to peel away his crown.
But he says it will not take much to show his arch rival Clifford Thomson, who was an instigator behind the contest, who’s the boss.
He said: “Five years ago I asked Clifford if he had been to The Black Bull for his tea lately and he said no, because the chips are rubbish.
“I knew he was winding me up because my son Richard, 40, owns the pub and I supply to it.
“I knew Clifford ate there all the time.
“And the chips are fantastic – the best in Lancashire.
“So I said “hang on a minute if that’s what you think let’s have a competition.”
The two bantering pals then pitched themselves against each other along with other farmers to find out who grows the best chip potato – all the while raising money for charity.
And it was a triumphant Peter who went home with the title.
It was the start of a regular competition and only served to fuel the good-natured rivalry.
Since then Peter has taken the crown twice in total, Ian Jenkinson and Martin Lawrenson have scooped the title once each and Peter joked: “Clifford got lucky one year and won – but we all know he bought them.”
Peter, of Cotewalls Farm, is very proud of his potatoes.
He said: “We send around 50,000 bags of potatoes to Blackpool every year so we know they are good.”
But his arch rival is having none of it and says he is just as confident he will be frying high this time around and go home with the coveted title.
Clifford, 76, says: “It was all down to luck that Peter won last year.
“Pillings spuds are a waste of time. St Michael’s spuds are the best.
“They have a nice texture and are a bit harder. They are good for roasting and for chips as they don’t absorb the fat.
“I am confident I will win and I am going in there fighting.”
Hoping to take the crown from Peter this year are Clifford, Adam Thompson of St Michaels, Martin Lawrenson of Eagland Hill and newcomer for 2018 John Barton, of Pilling.
They will each bring along a sample of their crop to chip and fry and everyone to judge.
Four different varieties of potato will be on show, from the four different local farms and each potato has its own special characteristics, textures and taste.
Peter, who drives a Range Rover with the personalised number plate ‘Spud 1’ says he is “100 per cent confident” he will win again and says the secret to his perfect chips are variety and soil type and high, dry matter.
He says other than that his potatoes will be “just as they are, straight from the ground”.
The event, which starts from 6.30pm on Wednesday, September 26 is likely to attract bags of spec-taters all rooting for their favourite chips.
All proceeds from the night are going to The North West Air Ambulance.
What makes the perfect chip?
What makes the perfect chip?
The answer, it would seem, depends on who you ask.
According to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the quality of a chip depends on three things: the potato, the oil it is fried in and the salt added at the end.
Simple, or so it would seem.
But while Jamie says he favours the Maris Piper potato for his chips, the farmers –understandably – all think their own spuds are number one.
Then the debate rages on over oils, with sunflower, groundnut and beef tallow – rendered beef fat – all in the mix.
But many chefs agree that once you’ve chosen your ingredients, the trick is to blanche the chips in the hot oil until soft but not coloured before taken out.
They should then be returned to the oil and fried at a higher temperature until they crisp up and get their distinctive colour.
The goal of course, is a chip that is golden and crispy on the outside but light and fluffy on the inside.
Sounds simple enough...