As It Happens

She won the World Porridge Making Championships for fried risotto — and the judges didn't even taste it

The winner of the 2021 World Porridge Making Championships technically didn't make any porridge.

Miriam Groot of the Vegan Reporter swapped rice for oats in this twist on an Italian recipe

Miriam Groot won the World Porridge Making Championship for her oatmeal twist on Italian deep-friend risotto balls. (Djuli Bravenboer, Miriam Groot)

Story Transcript

The winner of the 2021 World Porridge Making Championships technically didn't make any porridge. 

That's because this year's competition, held virtually because of COVID-19 restrictions, was boiled down to just one category — best specialty dish. 

There were only two rules: no precooking any of the ingredients, and every entry had to be made with real, steel-cut oats. 

Vegan food blogger Miriam Groot of the Netherlands snagged this year's coveted Golden Spurtle award with her Italian arancini recipe, which substitutes rice with oatmeal. 

"It's actually just deep-fried risotto balls," Groot, of the Vegan Reporter, told As It Happens host Carol Off. "That's what I made, but with steel-cut oats."

The oatmeal concoction combines shallots, garlic, lemon zest, mushrooms, vegan cheese, wine, thyme and vegetable stock, which is then rolled into balls, covered with breadcrumbs, and deep-fried.

"Deep-frying makes everything good," Groot said.

Because the contest was virtual, the judges didn't actually get to sample Groot's twist on Italian risotto. Instead, they picked the winner based on videos of the competitors whipping up their specialty dishes.

"They looked at videos that made them want to try the recipe. They really wanted to try mine, I think," Groot said.

The judges were also tempted by recipes from Scotland's Coinneach MacLeod, known as the the Hebridean Baker, and New Jersey's Aaron Leung, who tied for second place.

MacLeod's specialty dish was a baked oat alaska with honey, oat and raspberry sponge, topped with vanilla oat ice cream.

"I actually was surprised that he did not win because it made my mouth water. I really wanted to try that, but make my own vegan version of it," Groot said.

Leung joined MacLeod in second place with a recipe inspired by omurice, a Japanese fusion cuisine that consists of an omelette over a bed of fried rice. Like Groot, he swapped the rice for oats.

There was also a Canadian in the top 10 finalists. Bridget Young from Ontario took seventh place for her fluffy banana oat pancakes, served with blueberry compote.

This year marks the 28th World Porridge Making Championships, also known as the Golden Spurtle awards, named for a traditional porridge stirring tool. 

Most years, it's held in the Scottish Highlands village of Carrbridge, and awards its top prize for the best traditional bowl of porridge as selected by the "porridge committee" of judges. 

"With the COVID outbreak we sought a way to maintain interest in the contest, and at the same time promote the worldwide appeal of the mighty oats," Charlie Miller, a spokesperson for the awards, said in an email. 

Groot plans to compete again next year, hopefully in person.

"It feels like kind of the Olympics of porridge-making," she said. "I just really want to go there."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Ashly July. 

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