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Come Dine With Me Winner Jill Martin shows off her knockers – and they’ll knock your socks off

When we say people in Kent are trying to get their hands on Jill Martin’s knockers, it’s not quite as it seems.

Since the retired grandmother launched her home-cooked takeaway business in Deal, The Town Kitchen, just over a year ago, she has been inundated with inquiries.

And, having come joint first on Channel 4’s Couples Come Dine With Me earlier this year, it’s not just her winning spicy coconut curry dish that people are after, but also her palatable pasties which she’s branded Kentish Knockers.

Jill Martin with one of her Kentish Knockers
Jill Martin with one of her Kentish Knockers

Jill said: “What is a knocker, I hear people say.”

A knocker is a mythical creature known to miners who believed they would knock on the mine walls just before cave-ins. To give thanks for these warnings, and to avoid future peril, the miners would cast the last bite of their tasty pasties into the mines for the knockers to enjoy.

In a homage to Kent’s miners – particularly her father-in-law Ronald Martin, who retired from the pit at 65 and died three years later – Jill started creating her own pastry parcels with a name designed to grab people’s attention.

Her Kentish Knockers launched in February 2016 and they’ve been flying out of her oven ever since.

She said: “I wanted to put Kent on the map and also pay homage to the miners.

“Cornwall has got its Cornish pasties, well what about a Kentish Knocker for Kent?”

One of her most popular varieties is the sausage and mustard mash knocker, also available with vegetarian sausage. It comes with a dollop of caramelised onion gravy. The other is her cheese, onion and potato knocker, made with Kentish cheese and Bramley apples, topped with fresh herbs.

There’s also a curried Kentish vegetable knocker and a traditional minced beef.

Jill describes her Kentish Knockers as pasties set to knock your socks off
Jill describes her Kentish Knockers as pasties set to knock your socks off

Jill, who always cooks to music, said: “I describe it as a Kentish pasty set to knock your socks off. My catch line, ‘grab yourself a couple of knockers, and they are a bit fruity too!’

“They’re great for brunch, lunch and supper and the pastry is perfection.”

Jill coats them with egg and mustard seeds and has worked hard to perfect the crimp around the edge.

She said: “When you cook something delicious, you just want to share it with everybody. Well, I do!

“I’ve had lots of fantastic feedback. It’s taught me to never miss an opportunity in life.”

The amateur chef is now feeling so confident she has challenged celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Raymond Blanc to a cook-off.

Geoff and Jill Martin preparing their meal on TV show Come Dine With Me
Geoff and Jill Martin preparing their meal on TV show Come Dine With Me

Jill is a retired sales manager for P&O Ferries who also worked as a deputy manager for Topshop in Croydon.

She lives in The Grove, Deal, with her husband of 45 years, Geoff, and has three grown-up children, Bonnie, Jessica and Sam.

She is self-taught and has loved cooking and experimenting with flavours since she was a child.

At secondary school, she remembers her teachers rounding up her classmates to admire her butterfly cakes, and as a young mum she remembers making what she called Poverty Pie for tea.

With her husband Geoff being a self-employed stained-glass window restorer, times could be great but they could also be a little hard. The pie would be made up with any leftovers to avoid waste.

Now she is retired, with more time on her hands, she spends three full days a week cooking homemade dinners perfect for busy families or as takeaways. She delivers the dishes to homes or sells them at markets.

She said: “I believe home-cooked food is the basis of good health and happiness, and sharing wonderful food is such a joy.”

Jill’s other popular dishes include lamb in plums, spaghetti bolognese with spinach bombs, and orange pastry mince pies with a dollop of creme fraiche and brandy.

Kentish Knockers cost from £2. You can catch Jill at The Friday Market at Deal Town Hall each week.

Her dishes are gluten-and nut-free.

Visit The Town Kitchen on Facebook, email jillmartin1950@gmail.com or call Jill on 07816 231086

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