Home cook finals
ICA members have a chance to qualify for the All Ireland Home Cook Champion 2018 title at this year’s National Ploughing Championships. Successful applicants will have one hour to cook a dish of their choice from a list of ingredients provided for the cook off. The list of ingredients will be emailed 10 days beforehand to allow the contestant to decide what they’d like to cook or to get in some practice. They will cook in the ICA marquee alongside Chef Adrian. Contestants must be 18 or over on January 1, 2017 and can’t have worked as a professional chef/cook for the previous 10 years. Entries for the cook off at the ploughing are exclusively open to current ICA members. The winner at the ploughing championships will go onto to the All-Ireland Final 2018 at one of Ireland’s top agricultural shows – venue yet to be decided. For more info, email email@example.com or phone 087 268 1635. Mary Kennedy from Bridgetown Guild in Clare is one of eight quarter-finalists through to the semi-finals of the National Brown Bread Baking Competition. These take place at the National Ploughing Championships on September 19 and 20, when two contenders from each day will be chosen to compete in the final on September 21. Mary, along with Cáit Keating from Dungarvan, will be flying the flag for Munster and hoping one of them will bring the national prize down south. Mary isn’t at all fazed by the prospect of making her brown bread in front of an audience. And, while she learned how to make brown bread from her mother, she has picked up a lot of new tips in preparation for this competition.
“We have to use Aldi products as much as possible. I was a bit concerned about the bread turning out moist. But my sister, Breid, had a tip for me for that. I was also concerned about whether the b r e a d wo u l d r i s e , so my friends gave me some hints, as d i d my se c o n d a r y s ch o o l Home Economics teacher. She judges the baking at our local agricultural show in Bridgetown. I met her at the show in July and asked could I pick her brains.”
At this stage, Mary won’t reveal the tips she has received but she confirms they’ve all worked. In Bridgetown Guild since shortly after it formed in 1983, Mary has won prizes for h e r b ro wn bre a d at l o c a l shows. “I mainly entered to support the shows,” she says. She is one of 15 members of Bridgetown ICA and joined soon after ar riving in the locality.
“On my f irst Sunday at Mass in Bridgetown, this lady welcomed me and said they’d just formed a guild in the village and would I like to join. I thought ‘I’m in my 20s — my mother’s in ICA!’ But I went along and found it was my own age group. We were all having babies together. The guild has mainly been about the fun and friendship and the big thing is the confidence we’ve gained,” says Mary, adding that Bridgetown ICA isn’t so much into arts and crafts but is very communityoriented, helping out in the locality when asked.
The other six quarter-finalists who will bid for the best brown bread baker title later this month are Sheila Nolan from Ballon, Co Carlow; Ellen Keogh, Arklow, Co Wicklow; Vi v i e n n e R i g l e y , B a l l i ck - moyler, Co Carlow (representing Laois); Mary Conway, Aclare, Co Sligo; Anne Downey, Birr, Co Offaly; Rita Alves, Drogheda, Co Louth.
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National Brown Bread Baking competition semi-finalist Mary Kennedy from Killaloe, Co Clare, a member of Bridgetown ICA guild.