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Meet the contestants taking part in the first World Dumpling Championship

PUBLISHED: 15:12 30 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:16 31 March 2019

Neelam Subba and her son Jake Israel making momo dumplings. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Neelam Subba and her son Jake Israel making momo dumplings. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

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An inaugural festival celebrating the humble dumpling has brought together chefs and foodies from across Norfolk.

Elina Burkovska with her savoury dumpling batter at World Dumpling Championships. Picture: Ella WilkinsonElina Burkovska with her savoury dumpling batter at World Dumpling Championships. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

The World Dumpling Championships in Norwich, the first event of its kind, saw contestants whip up batches of the doughy treats for judges to sample.

The event at the Sanctuary Coffee Stop at St Alban’s Church in Grove Walk involved competitions for amateur cooks and professional chefs, with each involving a host of dumpling recipes from English to Nepalese varieties.

Organiser Eve Stebbings said: “I am a dumpling maker so I thought it would be lovely to get people together and make dumplings from all over the world. They are a taste of home wherever you come from.

“These contestants are the people who kept going through the process, cooking and telling stories about their dumplings.”

Joan Barnard with her classic 'Norfolk Dumplings' at the World Dumpling Championships. Picture: Ella WilkinsonJoan Barnard with her classic 'Norfolk Dumplings' at the World Dumpling Championships. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Ms Stebbings added that, based on the success of Saturday’s inaugural event, she would look to host a second competition next year.

Meet the contestants

Neelam Subba, 43 and from Norwich, was crowned the winner in the amateur contest for her traditional Nepalese filled dumplings, called momo.

For the competition Neelam, who works in children’s services, served a version stuffed with chicken, onion and ginger with spicy sauces – which she said she had to tone down for the judges.

Eight year old Jesse making vegan dumplings at the World Dumpling Championships. PIcture: Ella WilkinsonEight year old Jesse making vegan dumplings at the World Dumpling Championships. PIcture: Ella Wilkinson

She said: “We make momos for social gatherings, when we make them in Nepal it brings people together.

“My husband told me I should give it [the championship] a go, I was in two minds but I decided to give it a try.

“I love cooking, and momo is a popular dish back home. I have made them for loads of people and most of them have loved them.”

Elina Burkovska, originally from Latvia, made dumplings with pumpkin seeds, king oysters and lemon, a recipe she devised herself.

Chef Sonny Ngai, ready to steam the dumplings at the Baby Buddha Chinese Teahouse. The restaurant is taking part in the first World Dumpling Championships in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChef Sonny Ngai, ready to steam the dumplings at the Baby Buddha Chinese Teahouse. The restaurant is taking part in the first World Dumpling Championships in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The 36-year-old, who works as a kitchen porter at a Norwich burger restaurant, said she had experimented with different fillings before she found the combination.

“I think it goes together and it is a little bit interesting,” she said.

“I absolutely love cooking. It is kind of a hobby.”

Joan Barnard, 70, from Shropham, stuck with a more traditional English dumpling recipe, using only seasoned flour, suet, fresh parsley and thyme and water.

Chef Roger Hickman is taking part in the first World Dumpling Championships in Norwich. Picture: Newman AssociatesChef Roger Hickman is taking part in the first World Dumpling Championships in Norwich. Picture: Newman Associates

“They can be made without the suet, that is a traditional Norfolk dumpling,” she said.

“They are very adaptable, I don’t think people realise. They are simple to make and they can be vegetarian or vegan.

“I don’t make them all the time but I have made them for a long time. I tend to make them in the winter with stews.”

Brothers Jesse and Seth Rahamim, eight and six, were last-minute entries to the competition.

The young chefs from Norwich made a casserole from vegetable leftovers to go with their dumplings, which were flavoured with homegrown herbs.

Their mother Bryony, 40, said: “We were going to come to the competition anyway, but Jesse didn’t clock that we were not competing, so I phoned Eve and she said we could as someone had dropped out. I told the boys we could but they would be doing the cooking.”

The professional round was won by Norwich chef Blake Bowden, whose wild garlic tortellini saw off competition from Roger Hickman, Norwich Japanese restaurant Shiki and Chinese restaurant and tea house Baby Buddha.

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