Judging Panel 2024

Meet Our Judges & MC 2024

The Golden Spurtle Crown and Speciality Award relies on the skills and experience of our Judging Panel. The 2024 Judging Team is a range of famous and prestigious chefs and a Scottish sporting icon. Without our judges there would be no competition.

Neil Mugg – Head Judge, chairperson of Judging Panel

Neil Mugg, a judge at the Championships on many previous years is delighted to return to Carrbridge for 2024.

Neil has enjoyed a fantastic career working as a Chef in Scotland. Starting on the West coast in a country house hotel, he moved to Glasgow in 1990 to further his career and develop skills as a Pastry Chef whilst also studying cookery and pastries/ desserts at both Glasgow and James Watt colleges.

Late in 2003, Neil relocated to Perthshire and worked at The Gleneagles Hotel. Whilst there, after mentoring students in 2008, he took up a part-time position at UHI Perth and worked in both places until 2016.

After leaving Gleneagles, Neil worked in three colleges across Scotland and is now happy in his role at UHI Perth, where he can share his culinary knowledge and hospitality industry standards to the up-and-coming chefs of the future. He said: “To be able to work with and teach these youngsters vocational skills has been a highlight!”

He has always been very passionate about cooking and baking along with Scottish produce and feels very lucky that throughout his career he has been able to fulfil his ambitions. “Being asked back to judge the championships again is a real honour”, said Neil. “I am very grateful to be asked to welcome past winners, new competitors and previous competitors, who have supported the event each year. It really is a great event to network and meet new people!”

Kirsten Gilmour (Kj)

Kj is a passionate, straight-talking, award-winning chef, artisan baker & author.
Originally from New Zealand, she travelled & cooked around the world, falling in love with Scotland (& a Scottish bloke.) She now calls Scotland home.

She is the owner/ head chef/ baker at Kj’s Bothy Bakery an award-winning bakery just on the outskirts on Grantown.

Kj’s ethos has always been to create fresh, locally sourced, cooked from scratch fare with a kiwi twist.

She is now famed for her daily sourdoughs, artisan baking, freshly baked cakes, sexy puds, epic sarnies & delicious sausage rolls, she is a true coffee snob & prides herself serving top notch coffee.

Kj is the previous owner & head chef of The Mountain Cafe Aviemore, serving high end brunches & bistro style café dishes. The café became an Aviemore institution winning many awards & accolades over the 16 years it was open.

Some of Kj’s proudest accolades to date have been:  Best café in Scotland, Best independent café in the UK, Best casual dining chef Scotland, Woman of Inspiration for the Highlands & Islands, Bakery of the year Scotland.

Shop online or Visit Kj Wednesday – Saturday 8am – 3pm


John Beattie

john beattie bbc

John Beattie is a Scottish broadcaster and former rugby union player. A firm favourite of the Murrayfield crowd John earned 25 caps for Scotland and toured with the British Lions to South Africa (1980) and New Zealand (1983).

After retiring from rugby John transitioned from civil engineering to become a chartered accountant. In 1995, he entered the world of broadcasting. He is a regular host on BBC Radio Scotland across current affairs programmes and prime time shows.

John admits to having porridge most mornings and said. “How we take our porridge is up to our own personal taste, which is why I am looking forward to trying the different entries. I love porridge and have it almost every morning of my life. And there is nothing finer than going somewhere to be surprised at a twist someone has put into their particular dish. Since you ask, with hot or cold milk and prunes and seeds depending on how I feel……..”




Sarah Rankin (Master of Ceremonies)

Sarah RankinSarah Rankin is a former MasterChef Finalist, food writer, culinary event host and lover of Scottish flavours and produce.

Sarah will be reprising her hosting role at the 31st Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championships in October 2024.

“I am thrilled to be back hosting the Golden Spurtle. As a former judge, I’ve seen both sides of the event and getting to spend time with competitors from all over the world as they share their love of our national dish is such a joy.
There is always such a fascinating range of competitors and food cultures represented and getting to share their stories with the audience at the event and via livestream is a real privilege.

Sarah celebrates Scotland’s larder as a private chef and Supper Club host, and as a regular on the food festival circuit around the UK. You’ll find her food stories in several print publications and hear her regular contributions on BBC Radio Scotland.

She loves to celebrate local suppliers, sustainable food practices and Scottish produce and her first cookbook, ‘Kith’ which celebrates Scottish flavours, seasonality, local producers and the joy of cooking for those you love, is out now. More about Sarah in her website Here



The tables below demonstrate how our Judges will score entries in the traditional and speciality section.
You can find out more about the competition rules on our Competition > Rules page.

Speciality Porridge Section

Not Applicable in 2021