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The parmo, or Teesside Parmesan, is a dish originating in Middlesbrough, Teesside, and a popular item of take-away food in the Teesside area. It consists of a breaded cutlet of chicken or pork topped with a white béchamel sauce and cheese, usually cheddar cheese. The name of the dish is a reference to the dish chicken parmigiana, which is made with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. In an April 2019 survey, parmo ranked 20th in Britain's Top 20 Favourite Takeaways.
Parmo is said to have been created by Nicos Harris, a chef with the United States Army in World War II. He was wounded in France, but was brought to the United Kingdom to be treated in a British hospital. Eventually, he moved to Middlesbrough and opened a restaurant, The American Grill, on Linthorpe Road, where he created parmo in 1958. His son-in-law, Caramello, still lived in Teesside as of 2014, continuing the family tradition.
In 2009, supermarket chain Asda started selling parmo in their shops in Teesside. They claimed they were selling 6,000 chicken parmos a week, making them at the time the shop's fastest-selling line. Asda later expanded this line to branches outside Teesside.
Common parmo variants include additional toppings and preparations of the meat. These include:
- Parmo hotshot - a spicy version topped with cheese, pepperoni, peppers, garlic butter and chilli
- Parmo Kiev - topped with cheese, garlic butter and mushrooms
- Parmo Italia - topped with cheese, garlic butter and ham, with a further topping of mozzarella cheese
- Meat feast parmo - topped with pepperoni, chicken and ham
- Parmo Zeno - topped with cheese and onions
In 2007, North Yorkshire Trading Standards conducted a survey of 25 fast food dishes. A large parmo with chips and salad they tested contained about 2,600 calories and 150g of fat.
In popular culture
- Parmo was cooked by Antony Worrall Thompson on ITV's Saturday Cooks! on 15 December 2007, with guidance from Tamsinne Hatfield, who originally brought the recipe to the attention of the chef.
- Parmo appeared on Channel 4's Ruth Watson's Hotel Rescue programme on 14 October 2009 from the Kenbarry Hotel/The Blackpool, Blackpool where Ruth described it as "the antichrist of cooking".
- The parmo was the subject of a question in the TV quiz show Eggheads on 13 November 2009. In the final round, when asked the region from which parmo originates, the challenging team incorrectly answered East Anglia, in preference to North Wales and the correct answer Teesside. The incorrect answer given meant the Eggheads won that particular day's contest.
- On 30 May 2010, a small parmo was served as a starter in an edition of Channel 4's Come Dine with Me filmed in Darlington.
- On 27 January 2013, hosts Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer on Sunday Brunch presented Teesside native and former X Factor contestant Amelia Lily with a chicken parmo on the show.
- On 8 March 2018, Newcastle-born chef Anthony O'Shaughnessy served a Teesside-style chicken parmo on MasterChef UK Series 14 as part of a menu inspired by the North-East of England. The dish was judged by previous winners of the show and was very highly rated despite its appearance.
- "BBC - Tees Parmo! - Teeside Parmesan recipe". Retrieved 16 January 2018.
- "Teesside's fast food sensation". BBC. 6 November 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Starkey, Adam (6 April 2019). "Chinese wins Britain's Favourite Takeaway and the nation is divided once again". Metro. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
- "Parmos flying off store shelves". BBC News. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Hancox, Dan (9 October 2009). "The 'parmo' goes national". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Hudson, Jeff (June 2007). "A project to ascertain the energy, fat and salt levels, in a selection of takeaway ready meals obtained from outlets in North Yorkshire". North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards Service. North Yorkshire County Council. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013.
- Teesside recipe
- Parmo: Teesside's fast food sensation, BBC Inside Out – North East, 11 June 2007
- April Fool Evening Gazette article about the "history" of parmo
- Hardwick, Natalie (29 August 2014). "Welcome to the Magical, Mystical World of Parmo". Vice.