A PASTY chef from Weymouth is swapping Washington DC for the green grass of home as she returns to England for the Pasty World Championships.

Nicola Willis-Jones left Weymouth over 25 years ago. She trained as a chef at South Dorset Technical College and today, she’s a head chef in a pasty shop in Washington.

The chef is a huge fan of pasties and tries to bring her British roots and flavours of Dorset to her cooking.

Nicola said: “I love my job, I feel like it was made for me, a little bit of England on the outskirts of Washington DC.

“I was able to bring my skills and knowledge that I learned in training and as my years as an RAF chef and bring them to the US. Bringing a taste of home to the many Brit’s that live here is very satisfying.

“As well as pasties I make cakes and biscuits. I have learned to make things that I had never made before, because they aren’t available here.

“I have also taken some British tarts and turned them into mini dessert pasties!”

The chef competed alongside other pasty makers over the weekend at the championships held in Cornwall.

Two of the pasties Nicola entered were a slow roasted pork with BBQ seasonings with a southern style coleslaw pasty and flavours and vegetables of the southwest US; sweet potato, corn, red peppers, black beans and Cajun spice.

She said: “I heard about the competition a few years ago and have asked the owner of Pure Pasty, Mike Burgess originally from Cheshire, every year if we could enter. After 6 years in business perfecting our craft he decided it was time. We couldn’t enter the Cornish pasty category, so we are entering the open section. Between my boss and myself we are entering six – if we are going that far we might as well make the most of it.”

When asked to share her secret to making a good pasty, Nicola said: “In my opinion it is as much about the crust as the flavour of the filling.

“You don’t want it to be heavy and soggy, or too light and flaky. It needs to be strong enough to be held but it also needs to melt in your mouth. Part of our motto is ‘it’s all in the crust’!”

The chef says she tries to return to Weymouth as often as she can.

She said: “Weymouth is my roots and even though my parents are no longer there I try to visit whenever I am in the UK.

“I miss the family home, my friends but also the rolling hills and the seaside – I have great memories of both.”