'I’ll be back every year to defend my title' - Watford man named Cornish pasty champion (From Watford Observer)
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Watford man, Terry O’Connor, wins gold medal in World Pasty Championships
Grave-digger by day, master baker by night - a man from Watford has tasted swede success in an international Cornish pasty baking competition.
Terry O’Connor took the gold medal in the prestigious amateur category of the World Pasty Championships this weekend.
Also known as "the Olympics of the Oggy", the intense day-long competition is held in front of thousands of avid pasty fans, and is supported by the Cornish Pasty Association.
Mr O’Connor has worked as a baker, a porter at Watford General Hospital, and finally as a grave-digger with the United Synagogue Burial Society.
The 51-year-old said: "I’ve been making pasties for years. I do a lot of cooking because it takes my mind off my morbid job.
"Every day we’re digging, burying, keeping the tombstones clean and keeping the place looking nice.
"I’ve been entering this competition since it started three years ago, I go down there and try my best."
Mr O’ Connor has Cornish heritage, having been born in Mullion, before his family moved to Australia under the infamous "ten pound pom" scheme in 1965.
The family moved back to England, living in Saffron Walden before moving to Watford in 1972.
Mr O’ Connor’s father worked as the head chef in Watford Town Hall, and taught his son how to make bread, pastry and confectionary.
He studied baking at college and went into the bakery business, before he was made redundant.
Mr O’ Connor found success in the competition last year in the Open Savoury Amateur category, with his chicken and pancetta pasty.
This year, however, he only had eyes for the big prize, the Cornish pasty.
The meat-stew filled pastry pocket is covered by a Protected Geographical Indication, meaning it must be made to a strict specification in order to be called a Cornish pasty.
It must be a "D" shape and crimped on one side, never on top, and most importantly, it must be made in Cornwall.
Mr O’Connor, who lives in St Albans Road, stayed in Lostwithiel, Cornwall the day before the competition and baked his pasties there to ensure they met the specification.
He said: "Winning was the best feeling, I’ve been trying for years. If my dad was around today he would be very pleased. I’ll be back every year to defend my title.
"The crimp is very important, and my mother taught me how to crimp pasties properly.
"The secret is all about having good ingredients. Good vegetables, good meat, and a few other secrets I can’t give away."
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