Parmo or Parmesan, a food dish originating in Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough is a large town situated on the south bank of the River Tees in north east England, that sits within the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire...

, is popular in the North East of England, North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire is a non-metropolitan or shire county located in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England, and a ceremonial county primarily in that region but partly in North East England. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972 it covers an area of , making it the largest...

 and especially in the Teesside
Teesside is the name given to the conurbation in the north east of England made up of the towns of Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar, Billingham and surrounding settlements near the River Tees. It was also the name of a local government district between 1968 and 1974—the County Borough of...

 area, Hartlepool
Hartlepool is a town and port in North East England.It was founded in the 7th century AD, around the Northumbrian monastery of Hartlepool Abbey. The village grew during the Middle Ages and developed a harbour which served as the official port of the County Palatine of Durham. A railway link from...

 and Darlington
Darlington is a market town in the Borough of Darlington, part of the ceremonial county of County Durham, England. It lies on the small River Skerne, a tributary of the River Tees, not far from the main river. It is the main population centre in the borough, with a population of 97,838 as of 2001...

. It typically consists of deep-fried chicken in bread crumbs topped with a white béchamel sauce
Béchamel sauce
Béchamel sauce , also known as white sauce, is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine and is used in many recipes of Italian cuisine, for example lasagne. It is used as the base for other sauces . It is traditionally made by whisking scalded milk gradually into a white roux...

 and cheese. Variations use pork or, less commonly, a vegetarian main component.


The Parmo originated as escalope Parmesan, a derivative of veal or chicken Parmigiana
Parmigiana is a Southern Italian dish made with a shallow-fried sliced filling, layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. Parmigiana made with a filling of aubergine is the earliest version...

, a dish found in several areas where Italian immigrants have settled. The parmo is said to have been created by Nicos Harris, a chef with the America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

n army in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He was wounded in France, but was brought to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 to be treated in a British hospital. Eventually, he moved to Middlesbrough and opened a restaurant on Linthorpe Road, where he created the parmo at The American Grill in 1958. His son-in-law, Caramello, still lives in Teesside and continues the family tradition.


Chicken or pork fillets are flattened, then dipped in egg and then bread crumbs, after which it is deep-fried. Onto this is poured a thick, white sauce (similar to béchamel sauce, but butter may be partially or wholly replaced by other fats) and then it is topped with grated cheese. The cheese is usually a hard cheese such as cheddar, rather than Parmesan cheese, that originally gave the dish its name. The dish is then grilled or baked to melt the cheese.

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of outlets preparing the parmo with reformed chicken rather than solid fillet.


A parmo is often accompanied by chips
French fries
French fries , chips, fries, or French-fried potatoes are strips of deep-fried potato. North Americans tend to refer to any pieces of deep-fried potatoes as fries or French fries, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, long, thinly cut slices of deep-fried potatoes are...

 with a salad, usually consisting of shredded cabbage, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion. Garlic sauce is a popular accompaniment on Teesside.

The parmo is generally available in two sizes, and terminology varies between outlets:
  • Large or full parmo
  • Half or regular parmo (sometimes known as a "ladies' parmo")


Originally, veal
Veal is the meat of young cattle , as opposed to meat from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds...

 was used, but was later replaced by pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

. In more recent times, chicken
The chicken is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird...

 became more popular as more Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

-owned takeaway restaurants opened. Fish and vegetarian parmos are also offered in certain restaurants.

Parmos are also offered with additional toppings in combinations that vary from restaurant to restaurant.
For example:
  • Parmo hotshot - chicken or pork topped with cheese, pepperoni, peppers, garlic butter and chili
  • Parmo Kiev - chicken only topped with cheese and garlic butter
  • Parmo Italia - chicken or pork topped with cheese, garlic butter and ham, with a further topping of mozzarella
    Mozzarella is an Italian Traditional Speciality Guaranteed food product. The term is used for several kinds of Italian cheeses that are made using spinning and then cutting :...

  • Meat feast parmo - chicken or pork topped with pepperoni, chicken and ham
  • Parmo Zeno - chicken or pork topped with cheese and onions
  • Nichola Marina vegetarian parmo - created by Charlie Constantine in honour of his late daughter
  • Parmo Pizza - in September 2011 Pizza Hut
    Pizza Hut
    Pizza Hut is an American restaurant chain and international franchise that offers different styles of pizza along with side dishes including pasta, buffalo wings, breadsticks, and garlic bread....

     introduced the Parmo Pizza to Teesside

Due to its size, a full parmo is usually served in a pizza box along with its accompaniments, although a large round polystyrene
Polystyrene ) also known as Thermocole, abbreviated following ISO Standard PS, is an aromatic polymer made from the monomer styrene, a liquid hydrocarbon that is manufactured from petroleum by the chemical industry...

 tray is also common.

Supermarket sales

In 2009, supermarket chain Asda
Asda Stores Ltd is a British supermarket chain which retails food, clothing, general merchandise, toys and financial services. It also has a mobile telephone network, , Asda Mobile...

 started selling parmos 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.

Nutritional information

In 2007, North Yorkshire Trading Standards conducted a survey of 25 fast food dishes. A large parmo with chips and salad contains about 2600 calories and 150g of fat.

Popular culture

  • The parmo appeared on ITV's Saturday Cooks on 15 December 2007, and was cooked by Antony Worrall Thompson
    Antony Worrall Thompson
    Henry Antony Cardew Worrall Thompson is a British celebrity chef, television presenter and radio broadcaster.-Biography:...

    , with guidance from Tamsinne Hatfield, who originally brought the recipe to the attention of the chef.

  • The Parmesan appeared on Channel 4's Ruth Watson's Hotel Rescue
    Ruth Watson's Hotel Rescue
    Ruth Watson's Hotel Rescue is an observational documentary television series which aired on British terrestrial television channel, Channel 4 in 2009....

     programme on 14 October 2009 from the Kenbarry Hotel/The Blackpool, Blackpool
    Blackpool is a borough, seaside town, and unitary authority area of Lancashire, in North West England. It is situated along England's west coast by the Irish Sea, between the Ribble and Wyre estuaries, northwest of Preston, north of Liverpool, and northwest of Manchester...

     where Ruth described it as "the antichrist
    The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

     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 the 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. Ironically for the show, Teesside was misspelled 'Teeside'.
  • On 30 May 2010, a small parmo was served as a starter in an edition of Channel 4
    Channel 4
    Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

    's Come Dine with Me
    Come Dine With Me
    Come Dine With Me is a popular Channel 4 television programme shown in the United Kingdom, produced by Granada Television and first broadcast in January 2005. The show has either four or five amateur chefs competing against each other hosting a dinner party for the other contestants...

    filmed in Darlington.

  • "Primo Parmo" is the name of a film, made by North East film company ACT 2 CAM
    ACT 2 CAM
    ACT 2 CAM is a production company and acting school based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.The company is notable for producing independent films with cast and crew of young people from 8 to 18 years old...

    in 2011.

External links

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