IT WAS one of those jobs you never see advertised: judging a cheesecake competition. And it proved every bit as enjoyable as it sounds.
I lined up alongside three other lucky judges – led by Sheffield College Master Chef Mick Burke – to sample, savour and select the best of around 20 cheesecakes produced by the cream of the city’s cooks. It was no easy task.
The atmosphere was electric at the Copthorne Hotel in Bramall Lane. We tried each anonymous entry, marking it for presentation, cutability, creativity and flavour as the anxious chefs looked on.
There was a towering Elvis creation of strawberry and banana layers on a peanut biscuit base and a contemporary version, topped with a mixture of strawberries, blackberries and strips of purple jelly. But finally the marks were totted up and the winner emerged.
Top honours went to Alison Foster, of the Nether Edge-based Heavenly Cheesecake Company.
With her reputation on the line, she had been nervous of the outcome, but her unusual strawberry and green peppercorn combination was a big hit with the judges.
And just half a point behind was Peter Lightfoot of the Three Merry Lads at Lodge Moor, with an inspired savoury cheesecake of creamy gorgonzola and spinach topped with pancetta.
Meanwhile, the amateur category was won by Morag Morgan, mother of Fiona, whose boast triggered the idea for the Charity Cheesecake Challenge.
Organiser Mick ‘The Knifeman’ Fox was delighted with the success of the event, which raised more than £500 for Weston Park Hospital. He now plans to make it an annual feature.