With the trophies collected, the paperwork completed, banner produced and printed, I got up on Sunday 20th October nervously wondering what the day would bring when the 1st Great Selsey Bake-Off got underway. Would we get any participants? On the other hand, would we be inundated?
Steve Power of Wave 105 FM, one of the judges, had done a terrific job in advertising the event on his morning show and, with the help of friends, the Facebook community couldn’t help but know about it as well.
The Seal had set aside the back room for us with all of the tables laid with nice white tablecloths, and after I had arrived I unpacked the necessities of day; cocktail sticks with numbered labels on for putting into the entries so that the judges didn’t know what belonged to whom, forms for the names of entrants, banner, RNLI flags, etc., etc. Oh, and a large glass of red wine.
And then the people started to arrive. The weather was a bit unkind to say the least but that didn’t stop 32 entries being brought into The Seal, queueing into the bar while they patiently waited for me to register them. The Victoria Sandwich and Fruit Scones categories were by far the most popular and they all looked wonderful. What was so pleasing was the fact that there were several children and teenagers who entered the competition, and they proved themselves to be as good as the adults. More of which later.
At 2.30 p.m. I ushered the judges into the room and shut the sliding doors. Apparently the atmosphere in the bar was buzzing with anticipation for the 1½ hours it took for the judging to take place!
The three judges, Steve Power, Wave 105 FM, Glen Berry, the Village Bakery, and Paul Seabrook, formerly of the Village Bakery, started with the three pasties entered in the first instance (savoury before sweet, obviously). Paul had brought along his large, sharp knife and with it in his hands the competition commenced! Great deliberation, which was to be the byword throughout the whole of the judging process, ensued. Textures, tastes and quality were compared and a decision made. Three pasties, three prizes, and so all would be pleased.
On to the Chelsea buns. Four entries and another decision made. Someone would be disappointed.
Fruit scones next. By this time Neil Kimber of Highhouse Insurance Services Ltd, sponsors of the competition, and Niko Kolios, proprietor of The Seal who was busy taking the photos, had joined us, and couldn’t resist taking part in the judging! This category had twelve entries including several which included jam and cream to be served if wanted. Tracy Riddolls entry was wonderful to behold and even included little pots of clotted cream and jam, and a small vase of red roses. "Presentation is everything!" said the Chairman of the Selsey Lifeboat Fund Raising Committee. More like she was hoping to curry favour with the the judges (joke, Tracy!). The judging was done purely on the scones so that the professionals could judge the actual consistency and taste of the baking without it being masked by any jam and clotted cream! Marks were awarded and it was then on to the Victoria Sandwiches.
Thirteen Victoria Sandwiches were entered including two which were dressed up to the nines! The judges were definitely getting rather full-up by the time they got to the eighth cake but, knowing that the end was in sight, they soldiered on. It was a very tough decision and four other people were called into the judging room for their opinion and, because it was a split decision in the end, it was decided to go back to the original judges-only decision, a split of two-to-one.
As I said earlier, there were several teenagers and children who participated and it was absolutely fantastic to find that one 16-year-old, Megan McCloskey, had won the three categories she had entered and another teenager, Zara Hilton, came the close 2nd in the Victoria Sandwich category! I had to ring Megan to let her know she’d won because she hadn’t stayed to see the results, and she was in shock. When she arrived back at The Seal she told us that all she ever wants to do is bake. Marvellous! Glen even bought her other pasty because he thought it was so good. Can I just say that the amateurs here – i.e. everyone except Glen and Paul – were totally and utterly amazed at the way the professionals approached this competition. We heard "What’s that I can taste? Oh, it’s a bit too much vanilla.", and, "Too much baking powder in this one.", and, "This texture is perfect.". It was a taste and "was it nice?" for the amateurs! Glen and Paul’s professionalism is much appreciated and admired.
During the afternoon there was a band playing (Andy and Steve, always popular with the locals) to entertain the customers and they very generously allowed us to interrupt them to announce winners etc. and to thank everyone.
So, with the competition over, it was now time to sell the produce. As a little aside, I had found someone (who I know) wandering around the judging room eating a Chelsea bun. When I challenged her she claimed that she thought that she could just help herself! I took £1 off of her for her cheek! Tracy Riddolls, Chairman of the Selsey Lifeboat Fund Raising Committee, did a fantastic job in auctioning off the remaining cakes and scones, losing her voice in the process, but she was determined that NOBODY was going ANYWHERE without all the cakes being sold! Ashley Pledger (who entered three lots of scones) even bought the Bake-Off banner.
The raffle was drawn (cash prizes) and winners announced. Tracy had also done a fantastic job with selling the remaining raffle tickets while the judging was taking place.
The results of the competition are as follows:
Everyone connected to this competition are so very pleased that it went so well and that there were so many happy and smiling people attending. The judges and sponsor were unanimous in their decision to do it all again next year and it just remains for me, as the organiser, to thank everyone for their help and their support - and to the contestants -
|Highhouse Insurance Services Limited - Sponsors of the 1st Great Selsey Bake-Off|
(Article written by Sue Lintott, Webmaster and Deputy Chairman, Selsey Lifeboat Fund Raising Committee)