Neal Robertson, owner and chef of Tannochbrae Tea-room, Auchtermuchty, Scotland
Reigning Porridge Making World Champion Neal has been working hard to retain his crown. Neal cooks porridge every morning, but has found himself cooking it four times and more in a day for visitors to his tearoom, photographers and for demonstrations. Neal claims; “The local support for my bid to retain the title has been fantastic, there has been talk of organizing buses and my lovely neighbour, Annie Penman has given me her granddad’s old horn porridge spoon for luck!
Nick Barnard, Writer Managing Director of Rude Health London, England
When not ranting about such crucial issues as bad coffee from expensive espresso machines Nick can be found writing books about flying and when not writing he’ll be flying stunt planes at Air shows. Nick claims, “Every morning, every day of the year my son Max (6) and I share a saucepan of Daily Oats porridge served with a ladle of raw Guernsey cream and all I can reveal is that my super indulgent speciality porridge is going to be very melty!”
Anna Louise Batchelor, Porridge Lady, Reading, England
Anna lives in Berkshire and is a ‘regular’ competitor. She claims to have been very much inspired by a trip to the Hebrides where she picked up a “secret weapon” to help her win the Golden Spurtle this year! Anna has been giving lots of Porridge demos over the summer including at the music & food festival ‘Harvest at Jimmy’s’ on the farm of TV’s Jimmy Doherty and has also cooked up Porridge for Sue Perkins as part of the Mary’s Meals campaign.
Lynn Benge, The Pines Country House, Duthil, Scotland
Lynn is a long time stalwart of the porridge making championships. She won the title back in 2005 having won the speciality section the year before. Lynn’s gust house guests claim her porridge to be the best in the world but Lynn has to impress the judges to be a second time world champion.
Ian Bishop, Hostel & Cycle shop owner and ski instructor, Carrbridge Scotland
Ian is a local competitor and past World Champion in 2008. Ian uses organic products from a Golspie mill and uses water from his own freshwater borehole and abides by the adage of: “practice practice practice.” Ian has threatened to retire from competitive porridge making but we are pleased to welcome this larger than life local character.
Peter Clark, Editor writer and porridge chef, Ilkley England
Peter has been making porridge for as long as he can remember. From the age of four, he was detailed to make the family porridge each morning. He had to stand on a chair to reach the stove! His three children are all porridge addicts and commendably, they have all passed their porridge making proficiency tests. He is a member of the Scotland Rugby Supporters’ Club and has foregone an opportunity to travel to New Zealand to watch the World Cup in order to train for the Golden Spurtle.
Barry Gauld, Head Chef Kinlochewe Hotel Wester Ross, Scotland
3rd time lucky perhaps for this talented west coast chef and fireman. Despite making porridge every day at breakfast Barry has at the time of writing not yet created his speciality recipe and may “decide on the morning of the competition.” He has been in training and is keen to take on the reigning world champion.
Merry Graham, Newhall, California, USA
Merry is the winner of Bob’s Red Mill, Oregon USA heats. Prior to her new-found passion for creating tasty dishes for recipe contests, she spent much of her time home-schooling her four children. Merry regularly contributes to a monthly food column for her local newspaper and also writes a blog called, Merry Cooking! Merry has been entering recipe contests for nearly two years and has quite a few prizes in her purse, but nothing as big as a trip to Scotland!
Robert Mc Kenny, Adult Guidance Counsellor Galway, Ireland
Robert has been living and working in Galway City on the West coast of Ireland for the past two years. Originally from Co. Louth his primary interests are bed, bicycles & breakfast. Due to his love of bed he tends to have to rush his porridge each morning and as a result his speciality porridge for this year’s Golden Spurtle is his very unique time saving combined breakfast porridge. Robert, a wooden spoon user, made a 400km round trip to pick up a Spurtle for the competition so as to check what all the Spurtle fuss was about but sees it being hard to break lifetime habits.
Kate Clark, The Old School, Carrbridge
After searching for her dream home in the country for many years Kate and her husband David moved to Carrbridge 3 years ago. Together they renovated the old School into luxury self catering accommodation, As well as running the business Kate is also Practice Nurse and has a very hectic schedule, spending as much time as she can with her 6 week old granddaughter. A farmers daughter from Aberdeenshire with 5 siblings, porridge was the only choice on the breakfast table. Her mother, a cookery teacher taught her from a very young age using her secret family recipe!
Simon Rookyard, Student Manchester, England
Simon is a fourth year student studying Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Manchester and spent his summer as an intern at Jodrell Bank. He is also plays in the prize winning Tyldesley Brass Band. Whilst Simon is keen to pit his skills against other porridge makers he is also keen to show that student cuisine isn’t all lentils and has been training hard for months to prove it!
Pia Redin, Porridge cafe owner, Sweden
Pia has worked as a teacher for 18 years but this summer completely changed career and opened up Sweden´s first Porridge-Café in south Sweden. (www.bjorklyckan.se)
“It is a big challenge, but it is also very rewarding and I certainly enjoy my workdays”. Pia has been trying new porridge recipes on guests that she describes as “robust” porridge with influences of old Swedish working culture; flavours that an old Swedish lumber jack would find familiar – mixed with a few new influences.
David Susans, Guest House Owner Ballachulish, Scotland
A one-time printer, David, opted for a complete change of lifestyle with a move from Lancashire to Ballachulish where he can now be found cooking up porridge for his guest house visitors. David believes he is a porridge expert with his confidence having been boosted by a comment by a relative who declared David’s porridge as” the best he had ever had cooked by an Englishman!”
Lennart Svahn, Miller Stapafors Mill, Sunne Sweden
Lennart works in a fully working mill built in 1709 and is the only mill in the world producing skradmjol – a roasted flour dating back to the 17th century. Lennart roasts, hulls and grinds the oats while his wife Kerstein weighs and packages the finished product for sale to supermarket chains. Lennart has been training the last year looking to perfect his making of traditional Scottish porridge
John Boa, Scotland
John is from Strathglass but has lived in Edinburgh for 30 years. An accomplished gaelic singer with the Lothian Gaelic Choir and several times gold medal solo finalist at the National Mod.
John enjoys cycle touring including twice cycling between Land’s End to John o’ Groats, once in each direction. On each trip carrying oatmeal, salt and a spurtle to make a sustaining breakfast every day saying “I was undoubtedly helped along the way by a morning intake of porridge. The simplicity of using just one main ingredient makes it the only choice for cycle touring – its easy to carry enough to do breakfast for the whole week”.