Boiling, baking, stewing and sautéing: these are just some of the kitchen skills already perfected by the many children around Ireland who entered our recent cooking competition. We received more than 80 impressive entries to our callout, in which we asked children to record a one-minute video of themselves with a meal or dish they had made. We also wanted to know what they love about baking or cooking, and how they made their dish.
Children all over the country served up cakes, bread, pasta, seafood, fried chicken, pies and lots of other delicious dishes.
Our judges, Irish Times columnist and former LA Times food editor Russ Parsons and Irish Times food writer Lilly Higgins, had the unenviable task of whittling down the entries, and many of the videos stood out.
At just five years of age, Aki Martin gave a very skilful sushi-rolling demonstration, and we particularly enjoyed how he ate most of his rice before it made it into the roll.
Hannah Finnegan from Bettystown Co Meath impressed the judges with the lemon balm she picked in her garden to include in her lemon cake; Eoghan Cafferky from Galway stood out for the judges with his clam pasta and confidence in the kitchen, while Arwen O'Neill's use of local Donegal produce and her grandad's onions and garlic in her spaghetti bolognese impressed Lilly, who noted "Arwen even does the washing up at the end, which is a really important step!"
After long deliberations, the judges awarded the prizes to the following children: Sally McKeagney, aged 9 from Geashill, Co Offaly impressed with her cinnamon rolls. The youngest of seven children, Sally says "most" of her family likes to eat her buns, but they're usually gobbled up on the day they're made. Sally wins a cooking lesson for herself and her school class with Gareth Mullins, executive chef of the Marker Hotel in Dublin, who has been giving online cooking lessons to children during lockdown.
The judges felt Pearl Whooley, age 10 from Cork, demonstrated a real knowledge of how to cook and was comfortable in the kitchen as she made her 'pasta pronto', which she whipped up for herself and her little sister, Seóla. Pearl wins a spot over mid-term on Rozanne Stevens' Around the World Cookalong Camp, where she'll learn 16 recipes from five different continents.
Twelve-year-old Cian Hanrahan from Doon, Co Limerick, wowed the judges with his Victoria sponge, which he iced and decorated in a sea theme. Cian, along with his classmates, started baking over lockdown and his small primary school in Doon has bought an oven so they can continue to bake once they're back in school. Cian will be taking part in four-week online cooking course with Lisa Davies of saspansospan.ie.
Congratulations to all the entrants.