Co Down chef scoops top prize at ‘The Sammies’

Gary McDowell from Warrenpoint firm Deli Lites earned the accolade for his pulled-pork and chilli salsa creation; ‘Making a Pig of Yourself’

By Claire Cartmill
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2022, 9:18 am

The head chef of a County Down firm has scooped a top prize at the Sandwich Designer of the Year competition.

Gary McDowell, a head of food innovation at Warrenpoint firm Deli Lites Ireland Ltd earned the accolade at the annual British Sandwich & Food to Go Industry Awards (or The Sammies) for his pulled-pork and chilli salsa creation, aptly named ‘Making a Pig of Yourself’.

Combining pulled pork, vintage cheddar, sea salt and black pepper rice, spinach, Bramley apple and chilli salsa, crispy onion and pork crackling all wrapped up within a Mission Foods sage & onion tortilla.

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Gary McDowell, a head of food innovation at Warrenpoint firm Deli Lites Ireland Ltd

Organised by the British Sandwich & Food to Go Association the winners of this year’s contest, were announced just in time for British Sandwich Week which begins on May 22.

This year’s entries were judged by a panel of industry experts which included celebrity chef Theo Randall, sandwich guru Max Halley and industry heavyweights James Newton-Brown (M&S) and Marta Pogroszewska (Gail’s Bakery). Winners were revealed by Theo Randall and comedian Jo Caulfield during a gala evening at the Royal Lancaster, London.

Jim Winship, director, The British Sandwich & Food to Go Association, said: “What we tasted at this event were no ordinary sandwiches…with ingredients like duck confit, mashed potato, cronuts and bacon and banana (together) our chefs are pushing the boundaries of creativity within everyone’s favourite everyday dining staple. We’ve tasted some truly tremendous sandwiches!

“Gary’s creation demonstrated an astute understanding of flavour and texture combinations and deep frying the sandwich gave it a wonderful crispness while really adding to the depth of flavour. It was delicious.

Gary earned the accolade for his pulled-pork and chilli salsa creation, aptly named ‘Making a Pig of Yourself’

“The Sammies is always a highlight in the calendar, and it is also a precursor to the annual British Sandwich Week, a seven-day celebration aiming to support the industry and celebrate the nation’s love of a good sarnie. Some say, with all the events at this time of year, that it’s sandwich season in the industry. Yet, we like to think that sandwiches are in season no matter what the time of year!”

A chef in various hotels and restaurants in Ireland, Gary trained and now teaches in Southern Regional College. He moved into product development in 2005 and has worked for the past six years at Food to Go with Deli Lites Ireland.

Gary added: “This has been a great accolade to win against some of the industry’s finest sandwich designers. It really endorses the commitment to innovation that we have here at Deli Lites and shows our unyielding passion for world food and culture.”