This is my last post on the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship. I am going to tell you all about the competition itself. I will give you insider tips and knowledge to help you too become a winning competitor at the competition.
The championships are held in three rounds, in general there are five competitors per round, but 2013 was a bumper year of 6 cooks per round. Each round lasts for 30 minutes during which time each competitor must cook both their traditional and specialty Porridge. I think that one of the key things that you must know as a first time competitor at the competition is; both the traditional and the specialty Porridge must contain Oatmeal. Rolled oats of any variety are not allowed in the traditional category, this Porridge must be made from pinhead/coarse/medium/fine oatmeal only. Whilst quick cook oats can be used in the specialty dish, it must still contain oatmeal.
Tip One: Keeping to time – The 30 min time limit is strictly adhered to. To make sure that I use every second of the allotted time I ensure that all my equipment and ingredients are fully unpacked, included opening packets etc. I also use a timer clock so as I know exactly how much time I have left.
Both Porridge dishes are judged after each of the three rounds. Whilst competitors only cook the specialty once, there is a final round to decide the traditional Porridge winner. After all three rounds have finished the judges deliberate on who will cook their traditional Porridge again in the final round. Now, I have been told that there isn’t a rule on this but I have noticed a pattern; that two competitors are chosen from each round to go through to the final.
Tip Two: Prepare for the final round – After you have cooked in your round it’s worth preparing for the final, even if you think your Porridge didn’t go well! Once the competitors for the final round have been announced it can be a bit of a scrum to get your kit together to cook again, so be prepared. This is especially important if you pre-soak your oatmeal.
There is one other thing you should be prepared for during cooking, media attention! Because the Golden Spurtle is an international championship the event attracts the worlds media. During the competition prepare to be filmed, photographed and interviewed throughout cooking. This year I was interviewed by CNN just at the trickiest point of cooking my specialty Porridge! So whilst you need to be friendly, jovial and happy to be interviewed, keep your wits about you and don’t loose focus or sight of what you have come to the competition for: winning the Golden Spurtle!
The competition day is long and you will need all of your energy to successfully get through the day. If you are not cooking until the final round the wait can also be quiet nerve wracking.
Tip Three: Keeping your energy up for the full competition – In the first year I struggled to have enough energy for the final round as I had been standing backstage chatting all day and hadn’t eaten any lunch. Now I make sure to have a sit down and a little lunch to make sure that I am fighting fit for the final round!
Once the final round, the cook off between the 6 finalists, has finished it’s a waiting game whilst the judges decide the winners. Both the traditional and the specialty winners are announced at the same time. All competitors are required to be on hand for the announcement and we all wait around nervously!
The announcement of winners is made to a packed hall of visitors and competitors and then the media scrum begins! If you are a winner expect to be pulled away instantly to have your photograph taken and say a few words to the waiting media. Being a winner is a very exciting time, cherish it, enjoy it.
Whether you won or not it’s time to say your thank yous and congratulations. Time to pack up your bags and ready yourself for the after party! For the last two years the Golden Spurtle has hosted a very popular Cèilidh after the competition. This is the time to let your hair down, congratulate or commiserate.
There you go, my insider’s guide to the Golden Spurtle. Now you know how the competition works, I hope you will consider entering in 2014. Armed with my tips, who knows maybe you will be a winner too 🙂