The title of world porridge champion is heading south of the border after this year’s competition was won by a woman who runs a social enterprise cafe for adults with learning disabilities.
Competitors from England took both of the coveted titles at Saturday’s World Porridge-Making Championships in Carrbridge.
Lisa Williams, who runs a social enterprise and community cafe in Trimley St Mary in Suffolk, won the overall title of World Porridge-Making Champion.
The title is awarded to the contestant deemed to have made the best traditional porridge using just three ingredients – oatmeal, water and salt.
Her compatriot, Rude Health founder Nick Barnard, took the speciality prize.
Ms Williams said: “I am surprised and thrilled to win the championships.
“I discovered the Golden Spurtle in 2015 and immediately fell in love with the competition.
“In 2016 I made it to the final six and have been chasing the dream ever since.
“I absolutely love the competition. From the moment you step into the hall you are welcomed like family.
“It’s hard to describe, but from the flags and the tartan, to the people from the village who organise everything, the ladies who serve the porridge, the volunteers who wash up our equipment, the porridge parade, the bagpipes – it’s just magical.
Ms Williams’ winning recipe was made with half Hamlyns Scottish Oatmeal and half Hamlyns pinhead oatmeal, along with Maldon Sea Salt.
“I didn’t use to use salt in my porridge, but I saw Nigel Slater including it years ago and have been doing the same ever since,” she said.
The English success follows two years of Swedish dominance of the event.
Charlie Miller, from the championships’ organising committee, said: “This year’s competition attracted competitors from 11 different countries including Sweden, Canada, Germany, France, Poland and from across the UK.
“It has been a fantastic weekend celebrating a mutual love of porridge.
“Congratulations to our winners, well done to all competitors, and thanks to our sponsors and to everyone who came to watch them battling it out.”
The judges – who tasted more than 60 porridges over the course of the day – were Colin Bussey, former head chef at Gleneagles; Lydie Bocquillon, classically taught French chef and owner of the Auld Alliance in Kingussie; and Neil Mugg, chef lecturer at Perth College UHI and former head pastry chef at Glengeagles.
Maple and pecan proves the perfect mix for speciality porridge prize
While there are strict limits on what can be involved in the main competition, the speciality category allows for innovation.
Oatmeal can be combined with a limitless range of additional ingredients, leading to a wide variety of sweet and savoury entries.
This year’s speciality winner was Nick Barnard, whose Maple Pecan Porridge included Rude Health oatmeal, pecans from Roux Farm in South Africa and Guernsey Cream from Hurdlebrook Farm in Somerset.
Young people can also compete for the Silver Spurtle trophy and this year the top prize stayed in Scotland.
The junior title was secured by a local youngster, Carlin Beattie, with the speciality prize going to Hjalmar Nofors of Sweden.
The championships are organised by Carrbridge Community Council and sponsored by Hamlyns of Scotland, the Banffshire-based producer of Hamlyns Scottish Oatmeal and Hamlyns Scottish Porridge Oats.
Hamlyns’ managing director, Alan Meikle, said: “It’s great to see that it’s not just us Scots who are so passionate about porridge.
“It’s really interesting to see how something made from just oatmeal, salt and water can vary so much and of course we love seeing the culinary flair in the speciality event.
“Congratulations to the winners and also to Carrbridge Community Council on another excellent event.”
Since 1994, the World Porridge Making Championship has taken place each year in the Scottish Highlands village of Carrbridge.
The oaty cook-off draws competitors from across the globe to compete for the coveted Golden Spurtle trophy and title of World Porridge Making Champion.