Nathan uses his loaf in the Sandwich World Cup

March 2016

Nathan Lane

Student chef Nathan Lane is bidding to become the world’s best sandwich maker with a gastronomic flight of fancy.

Nathan hopes his bread creation, showcasing wood pigeon, will impress the judges of the Délifrance Sandwich World Cup in Paris.

The elaborate light meal, called “An English Country Garden,” fuses British food heritage with modern gastronomy. The pigeon breast is pan-fried with garlic and thyme and paired with sweet pear and earthy beetroot on the lightly toasted bread.

Nathan, 18, of West Heath, Birmingham, will compete against nine other international finalists at the 11th Délifrance Sandwich World Cup at the Ecole de Boulangerie et de Pâtisserie de Paris on Monday. The winner is due to be unveiled the following day in front of a live audience at the Sandwich and Snack Show in Paris.

The chefs’ have to use Délifrance breads and viennoiserie for their sandwiches. Their recipes must be original, meet nutritional criteria, be quick to make and cost no more than €2. Nathan is using Délifrance’s golden, crunchy-crust Héritage Poolish Loaf to reflect the rustic roots of pigeon in Britain’s cooking repertoire.

He said: “I did my research by looking back at British history, when hunting was part of everyday life, so I know the ingredients of my sandwich reflect our established culture. Wood pigeon and squab pigeon were the most popular proteins. Wood pigeon was cheaper, it was easier to get hold of and was considered a peasant food.

“I have given the sandwich a modern twist with beetroot and pear, which are traditional British crops. The beetroot will be presented three ways – as a purée, to spread on the bread, as a crumb for texture, and as a pickle for tang and sharpness.”

Nathan added: “I’ve practised many times and served the sandwich to my family and friends who are all surprised by how striking the colours are and how the combination of flavours works so well. I know there’ll be an incredible range of entries from around the world but I’m proud to be representing the UK and UCB.”

UCB Chef Lecturer Mathew Shropshall, who is Nathan’s competition mentor, said: “It’s fantastic to see a UCB student representing his country in this prestigious cookery competition. Over the past four years, I have seen Nathan go from joining our Young Chefs Academy to becoming a member of the UCB culinary team. He is a credit to his family, Birmingham and the United Kingdom. I’m sure he will give 100% to bring back the title from Paris. UCB is very proud of this young’s man’s achievements.”

The judges include French three-star Michelin chef Arnaud Donckele and they will be looking for innovation and flavor – and a potential culinary star for the future.

Ian Dobbie, managing director of Délifrance UK, said selecting Nathan was proof that student chefs have the talent and passion to help the sandwich industry develop. 

He added: “Délifrance UK picked Nathan and his recipe to represent the nation after sampling his selection of on-trend ingredients and bold flavour combinations which we think will really capture the attention of the judges. Nathan will prepare his sandwich in front of the judging panel while talking through his reasons for ingredient choice and the commercial viability of the final dish. It’s an intense, challenging and incredibly exciting competition and we all wish Nathan the best of luck in the final.”

Délifrance has been running the Sandwich World Cup since 1999 and the UK last won the title in 2009. This year’s entrants include contestants from the USA, Germany, Belgium, France and Greece. The winner’s prizes include the opportunity to be trained in French bakery, pâtisserie and gastronomy at the Délifrance bakery school in Paris.

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