The history of the Pickled Onion Contest

The History


The date is set: Sunday 9 February 2020.


  • 1st place: Jo Cummins-Moseley with her gin flavoured pickled onions.


The competition in 2018 was cancelled due to the death of Sally Winslet.


  • 1st place: Sally Winslet


  • 1st place: Caroline O’Sullivan with her first-ever attempt at pickled onions.


First place certificate for the Pickled Onion Contest held at The Retreat pub in Reading, 2015.
  • 1st place: Caroline O’Sullivan


Many people thought this would be last year of the contest. Read all about peoples then concerns and the challenge of deciding what a winning pickled onion is like:

Here is a video of the Pickled Onion contest in 2014:


Sunday, February 23 2013

  • 1st place: Bruce Beck, a past winner, from Caversham Park
  • 2nd place: Robert Scott-George, a former winner
  • 3rd place: Doris Panda with the assistance of Martin Hoare


  • 1st place: Sally Winslet
  • 2nd place: Martin Hoare, under the pseudonym Doris Panda
  • 3rd place: Jill Scott-George




  • 1st place: Bruce Beck of Caversham Park


Kate Winslet won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the 2008 film The Reader. In the press conference afterwards, she mentioned her mother Sally winning The Pickled Onion Competiton at The Retreat. See the video below:

Here is a video about the competition in 2009

Sally Winslet famously won the contest in 2009. The original result saw landlady Jane Marsden as the winner. Jane gave her crown to the eventual winner Sally Winslet.

The result:

  • Sally Winslet
  • Martin Hoare
  • Henry and Beth (daughter of Sally Winslet)

The competition was judged by:

  • Paul Clerehugh, London Street Brasserie and Crooked Billet chef
  • Hilary Scott, Evening Post deputy editor
  • Chris Roger, former County Delicacies owner, now of Vicar’s Game.

This is a link to the BBC report that year:


  • 1st place: Sally Winslet


  • 1st place: Sally Winslet


  • 1st place: Sally Winslet

The first place went to Sally Winslet, but there was a lot of controversy about other entrants cheating. >>> read more