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Will new Knockers help Jill Martin from Deal retain her pasty world champion title?

A Deal grandmother named world champion for her pasties - otherwise known as Kentish Knockers - will defend her title this weekend.

Jill Martin, 69, claimed first prize for her Betteshanger Big Breakfast Kentish Knocker at The World Championship Pasty Competition held at The Eden Project last March.

Jill Martin is "pulling out all the stops" as she returns to the competition this weekend
Jill Martin is "pulling out all the stops" as she returns to the competition this weekend

Following a year of success off the back of her new title, she has now rustled up a handful of new recipes in a bid to impress judges and the 8,000 strong crowd, on Saturday.

She'll once again be competing in the 'professional' category because she sells the delights at Deal's Friday and Saturday markets, against hundreds of businesses and bakeries.

She said: "I'm nervously excited.

"Because I won last year, I'm feeling a lot of pressure but I'm looking forward to it. Food brings people together and that's what I love.

"I don't know if anyone has ever won two years in a row but I'm pulling out all the stops. I really want to win."

Jill Martin is preparing to defend her World Champion Pasty title
Jill Martin is preparing to defend her World Champion Pasty title

Keen not to give the goods away, Jill is only hinting at the six entries she is putting forward to the judges.

She said: "I won't tell you the ingredients but there's a Royal Knocker which features one of Prince Harry's favourite dishes.

"There's been a lot in the media about the Royals recently and of course locally here we have Walmer Castle and its beautiful gardens.

"I'm doing a vegan option which I call my Hippy-Happy-Lip-Smacking-Lentils-and-Some Kentish Knocker.

"And how about everyone's number one comfort dish this time of year... a roast dinner in a pasty, complete with my sausage meatballs and gravy?"

The Big Breakfast Kentish Knocker made up of sausages, egg and bacon won Jill Martin the trophy in 2019
The Big Breakfast Kentish Knocker made up of sausages, egg and bacon won Jill Martin the trophy in 2019

Jill, a retired sales manager for P&O Ferries who also worked as a deputy manager for Topshop in Croydon, is not planning to leave her kitchen today as she cooks up two of each pasty - one to be displayed and the other to be sampled by judges.

Tomorrow, she will make the six-hour car journey to Cornwall with the pasties carefully packed in cool boxes with ice packs keeping them under 8C.

She'll be accompanied by husband Geoff, whose father, retired miner Ronald Martin, is behind the name of the delicious parcels.

They are in homage to Kent’s miners. The name stems from 'the knocker', the mythical creature who would knock on the mine walls just before cave-ins.

To give thanks for these warnings, and to avoid future peril, miners would cast the last bite of their tasty pasties into the mines for the knockers to enjoy.

Jill Martin, pictured with Tegan Birtwell, when she visited Sandown Primary School to teach them about home based cooking Picture: Paul Amos
Jill Martin, pictured with Tegan Birtwell, when she visited Sandown Primary School to teach them about home based cooking Picture: Paul Amos

Winning the title of pasty world champion has opened many doors for Jill who went on to feature on ITV's How to Spend It Well at Christmas - with Phillip Schofield.

She has also attracted media attention from national outlets and been invited into schools to help promote home based cooking among children.

Demand for her Knockers has been so great, she has also had an extra kitchen built in her garden.

She said: "It's been a crazy year. I can't cook them quick enough.

"I've sold them to famous authors, a TV producer, and people from all over the world who have visited me at Deal's Saturday market.

Jill Martin has come up with a variety of new flavours to impress judges at the championships hosted at the Eden Project
Jill Martin has come up with a variety of new flavours to impress judges at the championships hosted at the Eden Project

"When people say, 'Oh it's Cornish pasties!' I say, 'No madam, we're in Kent. It's a Kentish Knocker.'

"The thing about Kentish Knockers if you can put anything in them. They can be quirky and different."

Jill's ultimate dream is for Kent to be recognised for the Kentish Knocker with shops all around the county.

The passionate cook also has her own homemade takeaway business The Town Kitchen, which launched in February 2016.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal


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