Teesside's world-famous parmo could soon be given the same protected status as champagne, oysters and pork pies.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has launched a campaign to secure Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for the region's culinary contribution to the world.
Mr Houchen's crusade to gain a stamp of authenticity for the dish, also known as a parmesan, was one of his election pledges.
He said: "We need to officially protect the provenance of this local delicacy and must make it abundantly clear that the genuine article is only from Teesside.
“The parmo was invented on Teesside and should only be made on Teesside. Securing PDO status would mean that people would know they were getting the real deal when eating a parmo.”
Mr Houchen kick-started his campaign by writing to local businessman Geoff Johns, whose Jeff the Chef company supplies parmos to supermarkets nationwide.
A PDO applies to products, which must be produced, processed or prepared within a specific geographical area and have a reputation, features or qualities attributable to that location.
Mr Houchen added: "The benefits of protected status are not lost through Brexit. The likely development of a UK scheme for protected food names will have the same advantages, and can be attached to future trade deals, including with the EU.”
The parmo is regarded as being a Teesside culinary institution.
It is believed that it was cooked up in 1958 by former soldier Nicos Harris at the American Grill restaurant he ran in Linthorpe Road.
It is made up of a flattened chicken breast dipped in egg and breadcrumbs, deep fried, and covered in béchamel sauce and melted cheese.
Geoff Johns, Director of Jeff the Chef said: “Getting PDO status for the parmo will not only protect the reputation and quality of Teesside’s favourite delicacy, but add prestige to it as a product and raise its profile outside of our region, bringing in money and jobs. This is about pride in our area and that’s why we’re getting behind the mayor’s campaign.”