Birkenhead sandwich takeaway boss in national title bid with roast dinner

A SANDWICH shop owner in Birkenhead aims to put the perfect topping on her successful business by carrying off a coveted national title.

Paula Smith, who has run the popular takeaway Let’s Lunch in The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre for the past decade, has been chosen as one of seven from the North West of England to go through to the final of this year’s Sandwich Designer of the Year competition.

And she is hoping that the fantastic filling which carries her to victory in the final will be her mouth-watering roast chicken dinner sandwich, which has been wowing her own customers since she launched it last November.

When she makes it for sale at Let’s Lunch, 43-year-old Paula builds it from slices of juicy chicken, stuffing, gravy and real roast potatoes.

But she reveals that the version she will be preparing for the grand final at a swish London hotel in May will have an added ingredient which she hopes will be the secret weapon that mops up the opposition.

It was the result of a competition she ran to mark the tenth anniversary of Let’s Lunch last November that the idea for the novel roast dinner sandwich was cooked up.

Her  business has become firmly established since it opened, drawing in customers from a wide area, and Paula currently has a team of three assistants helping her to operate the takeaway six days a week supplying a wide range of sandwiches, filled jacket potatoes, toasties and home-made soup.

Paula, who lives with husband Lee and their six-year-old son Harvey in Wallasey, said: “The competition was for our customers to come up with a new sandwich with the best one being made up for sale at Let’s Lunch.

“One of my customers, Pete Walsh, suggested the roast dinner sandwich and we chose it because I’d never heard of anything like it being done before.

“I make it with lovely fresh ingredients. It can be based on chicken or turkey, or even beef or lamb.

“I then put on gravy but to bind it together and stop it being runny I add stuffing. The other key ingredient is potatoes roasted the traditional way in duck fat.

“Since I introduced it and started selling it for £2.50, the sandwich has proved very popular. In fact, one lady comes in for it three or four times a week because she enjoys it so much.

“When I decided to enter this year’s Sandwich Designer of the Year competition I knew it had to be my roast dinner one I was going to make as I reckoned no-one else would think of it.”

Paula’s strategy was correct because at the North West heat held at Tameside College in Greater Manchester she beat off stiff competition from around 20 other designers, who collectively submitted around 80 sandwich ideas, to become one of two winners in the chicken category who go forward to the final at the Lancaster Hotel, London, on May 16.

Derek Millar, Commercial Director for The Grange and Pyramids Shopping Centre, who said: “Paula’s sandwich shop business is a real success story and we were delighted to hear that she is taking it a step forward by even winning competitions.

“Her sandwiches are lovely and I know she has a terrific following so I am not surprised her entry stood out to judges.

“We all wish her every success for the London final.”

Remembering the North West heats, Paula said: “It was tough going as the competition in the heat was really excellent. Many of them were actually chefs.

“Only six people were supposed to be picked by the judges from the North West but in the end they chose an extra finalist – which was myself – as the entries were so good they couldn’t make up their minds.

“I’m now really looking forward to competing down in London. This time I’ll be up against the very best sandwich designers from all over the United Kingdom but I’m confident of success with my roast dinner sandwich.

“On the day we have half an hour to make our sandwiches. I will be doing my usual ingredients but I’ll be adding something I don’t normally use. It’s cabbage fried in bacon fat and incorporating bacon bits. It’s my secret weapon.

“I’m very much looking forward to going down to London with my husband Lee and going to the gala dinner later. If I win it will be prestige for my business.”

Last year’s Sandwich Designer of the Year was Richard Henderson of Cheddar in Somerset who won the title with a butter brioche sliced apple, raspberry and Italian marscapone toastie.

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