A MasterChef contestant made a Chicken Parmo for the show judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode and guest judges Chef Thomasina Miers and Steven Wallis, a former winner. They loved it, having the dish as ‘the next big thing!’
According to Wikipedia, the Parmo is a breaded cutlet dish originating in Middlesbrough and a popular item of takeaway food in the North East of England. Similar to a schnitzel, it traditionally consisted of pork in breadcrumbs topped with a white béchamel/Parmesan sauce and Parmesan cheese; there are many variations, including non-pork cutlets.
The Teesside version differs from the Italian Parmesan which is made with veal and uses Grouvier cheese instead of béchamel sauce. The parmo is said to have been created by Nicos Harris, a chef with the American army in World War II. He was wounded in France but was brought to the United Kingdom to be treated in a British hospital. Eventually, he moved to Middlesbrough and opened a restaurant on Linthorpe Road, where he created the parmo at The American Grill in 1958. His son-in-law, Caramello, still lived in Teesside as of 2014, continuing the family tradition.
Another theory is that in the 1940’s Adolf Hitler was holidaying in the seaside town of Redcar when he awoke on a park bench in Albert Park. It is said that prior to waking he had a vivid dream of cheese and chicken driving him to invent the legendary chicken parmo.
In true MasterChef style, contestant, Anthony O’Shaughnessy whipped up a gourmet-style version of the Middlesbrough delicacy, serving it with spicy beetroot ketchup and pickled cabbage.
“Many people in the North-East and on Teesside and will be thinking ‘Oh God, he’s made a chicken parmo on Masterchef’, it’s bit risky,” O’Shaughnessy said on the show.
”Making it glamorous, that’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but really it’s all about the flavour and that’s what I want to get across.”
After trying the contestant’s dish, the judges – who had apparently never heard of chicken parmo, which has been on sale in Asda since 2009, before – were so impressed that Miers described it as “British street food” while Wallis said it could be “the next big thing.”