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Mat Follas of Bramble Restaurant wins The Red Lion Great Sausage Roll Off 2023

In a unanimous judges’ verdict, Mat Follas from Bramble Restaurant in Sherborne, Dorset, was crowned as Champion in this year’s Great Sausage Roll Off, held at The Red Lion in Barnes. His winning sausage roll was themed on a Sunday Roast – local pork sausage meat from Parsons Butchers in Sherborne, slow cooked onions, bacon and a secret spice mix, topped with a pork crackling crumb and served with Mat’s Sunday Roast gravy for dipping. Mat, who is a previous Masterchef winner, served his sausage roll with a bottle of his Blackberry liqueur to finish.

The event, which attracted 16 entries from the West Country to Glasgow, was the ninth Great Sausage Roll Off – having been postponed due to the pandemic for the last two years. Launched in 2013, the competition is open to chefs from all backgrounds, with no specific entry criteria – just a thoughtful recipe, with a twist of passion and a whole lot of love.

All contestants must cook 12 sausage rolls – with two for judging and others being sold in aid of hospitality charity Hospitality Action. An auction was also held on the night with £1500 being raised for the charity. Second place went to Dav Browing of The Ocean View at the Dome, Plymouth, while third place went to Sue Mcgrath of The Vine in Buckden, Cambridgeshire.

The event was judged by a panel comprising Simon Rimmer [Sunday Brunch]; James O’Brien [LBC]; Kate Nicholls OBE [UKHospitality]; Daniel Clifford [Midsummer House]; and Pip Lacey [Hicce]. Award-winning beer and food writer, Melissa Cole, once again compered proceedings.

General Managers of The Red Lion, which is a Fuller’s pub, Claire Morgan and Angus McKean, were delighted with this year’s event. Angus said: “It is just so good to be back. The atmosphere was electric, the sausage rolls were delicious, and this is the best line-up of entrants and judges we have ever had. It was a great night.”

A victorious Mat Follas, who has entered the competition twice before, commented:
“It was a case of third time lucky for me – and I honestly couldn’t be happier. I stuck to the basics – a really great sausage, with superb crackling and some truly delicious gravy. I knew it was good – and when you know the judges feel the same, it’s just the greatest feeling.

“The sausage roll is definitely going straight on the menu at Bramble and the Roll Off trophy will be proudly joining my dusty Masterchef trophy on display in the restaurant.”

The last word of the night goes to general manager Claire Morgan:
“The Great Sausage Roll Off is really Angus’s baby. We’ve been together for 24 years – but to be honest, he would only notice me and the kids in the run up to the Roll Off if we were wrapped in pastry and baked in the oven! But I have to say, it is a magical night in The Red Lion and living proof of the amazing things you can achieve – even if you are just a wonderful community pub in South West London.”