Finalist of the previous Home Cook of the Year “croupes” competition for victory at this year’s Leamington Food and Drink Festival

Paul Foster, Laureate Laura Noble, Russell Allen and Sean Hughes

The finalist of the previous Home Cook of the Year contest at the Leamington Food and Drink Festival took home the win at this year’s event.

Laura Noble, who lives in Earlsdon, Coventry, was praised by all three judges – including Michelin-starred Paul Foster from Salt in Stratford – for the consistently high standard of the three courses she produced in the competition.

After narrowly missing the last time in 2019 and having to wait two years because of Covid, Laura finally got her hands on the prize.

Laura, who works at Coventry University, produced a starter of oven-baked Roquefort cheesecake with figs and balsamic onions on a red beet carpaccio, followed by a rump of lamb sprinkled with herbs, vinaigrette hot, Mediterranean polenta sticks, mascarpone cream and portobello mushrooms.

These were completed with a white chocolate and coconut mousse, pineapple compote and pistachio croissants.

Laura said: “I came so close the last time I had to try again.

“To be honest, I found it more intimidating because I knew what to expect, but I was happy with what I produced.

“I had a bit of a panic while cooking on gas at home and the demo ovens were induction, which can be a bit finicky, but it turned out fine in the end.

“My family must have eaten so much rump of lamb over the past few weeks that they will be happy not to see another piece of it for quite a while.

Of the three finalists this year, Nuneaton’s Abi Brown was second and Kenilworth’s Martyn Jones was third.

A large audience watched the event, which took place on Sunday, September 12 – the second day of the festival.

Russell Allen, general manager of Aubrey Allen, who sponsors the competition and chairman of the judges, said Laura produced restaurant-quality food.

“It’s really about consistency between the three courses and although it was a tight competition Laura showed fantastic technique throughout and her food was very impressive,” he said.

“Producing food of this standard under that kind of pressure when you’re a home cook is truly a feat.

“It was so good to see so many people coming out today and I was so happy that the traders did well after what was such a difficult time. It was good for the festival to come back.

The third judge was Sean Hughes – the man who propelled Laura to the title in 2019.

The two-day outdoor festival is organized by BID Leamington with the support of local businesses.

For our image gallery and report on the food festival, click here.

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