Pies at the ready in local school contest

Dicksons, the family pork butchers based in South Shields, are keeping all eyes on the pies for their 60th anniversary this year as they announce the winners of their pie design competition with local school children. 

Year nine pupils from South Shields and Sunderland were battling it out to be crowned king of the pies as part of the cross-school competition aimed at educating young people into everyday food production, with students choosing their own innovative pie filling to impress a panel of judges. 

The two winning pies from each school were the Coronation Bomber pie by Sandhill View School in Sunderland and from Harton Technology College from South Shields also stole the show with a trendy twist on pulled pork and apple with a Hog Roast pie filling. 

Metro Radio breakfast DJ’s Steve and Karen and food journalist Jane Hall were joined by MD, Michael Dickson to act as competition judges, held in the surroundings of the Enfields restaurant at the catering department of Gateshead College.  

Each school split into groups to develop their new anniversary pie filling over one month, with the judges looking for creative flair as well as innovative and tasty ideas.  They certainly had plenty of choice, with submissions ranging from a fish and chip filling to an alternative on a classic Dicksons favourite, the Saveloy Dip pie.   

Michael Dickson, MD of Dicksons said, “We decided to use our anniversary as an opportunity to look at ways to teach young people about how the sausages, bacon and pease pudding they regularly enjoy ends up on their plate.  It’s most certainly been an eye-opening and interesting experience for everyone involved. 

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the fantastic students for their passion and creativity throughout the competition.  We’ve been absolutely bowled over by the amount of effort the students have put into their entries and their passion to win was evident right from the beginning. We’re now looking forward to seeing the winning pies available in Dicksons stores for the next stage of the competition as our customers vote for their favourite – let the battle commence!”

Dicksons, founded by the father of current MD Michael Dickson in South Shields 60 years ago, moved from a single shop in 1953 to producing over 100,000 sausages and a further 100,000 pies every single week from its South Shields production facility and network of retail stores. 

The design a pie project by Dicksons comes on the back of recent research by the British Nutrition Foundation which found that up to one third of primary pupils thought cheese was made from plants and a further third of 5 to 8 year olds believing pasta was made from meat.  The research has highlighted the importance of education in helping young people to develop a better understanding of where food comes from – a fact Dicksons has taken to heart with their project to help young people develop their knowledge in food production and traditional butchery skills in a real industry setting. 

Andy Dodds, catering lecturer at Gateshead College, was one of the judges. He said: “We were delighted to host the competition; it’s a great way to educate young people about where their food comes from and how it’s made.

“I was extremely pleased to get involved as part of the judging panel.  The pupils came up with some fantastic ideas and I was extremely impressed by the flavour combinations that were presented. I’m sure Dicksons customers will enjoy taste testing the winners’ pies and wish both groups the best of luck. ”

The two winning pies from each school will now go head to head in Dicksons stores across the region throughout June as they compete to be crowned the best overall pie.