Ready, Set, Spurtle.
Take The Great British Bake off, minus Mary, Mel and cake, then add porridge, Nick and Signe. Bingo – you have The Rude Health Porridge Championships 2016. We called upon on the finest porridge-connoisseurs in the country to take part in our fourth Porridge Championships – at Waitrose Cookery School in King’s Cross. We pitted London’s oat loving bloggers, chefs, cookery schools and cafes against each other to determine the creator of London’s best porridge.
Dishes had to be 50% oats and cooked in 20 minutes. Other than that anything was possible and anything was permissible be it sweet, savoury, salty, spiced, stealthily healthily, drop dead indulgent or just plain traditional.
To separate the wheat from the chaff, entries were judged by Chef and food writer, Signe Johansen, winner of the Rude Health Porridge Championships 2014, along with our very own co-founder Nick Barnard, Speciality Champion at the 2013 World Porridge Championships. The porridge was judged on presentation, taste, texture and innovation.
Meet Bill Collison. Bill is the brainchild behind the nationwide Bill’s Restaurants chain. Bill’s aim is to serve accessible good quality food, in a space where people always want to come back to. Safe to say he succeeded. Bill’s baked apple, cinnamon & sultana porridge with blackberry ripple whipped yoghurt, roasted crab apples and salted toffee apple crisps was a decadent, indulgent delight. Bill was too.
CAMILLA, WAITROSE WINNER
Camilla was our Waitrose winner and came down from Kent for the occasion. Camilla’s Almond milk porridge, topped with a sprinkle of nutmeg, roasted apricots and homemade granola was textured, simple and oh so autumnal.
26 Grains is home to the most stylish porridge in town. Alex Hely-Hutchinson, 26 grains founder, ex Rude Health member, and oat queen has taken porridge to new heights over the last two years moving from Old Street pop up, to Neal’s Yard cafe and now restaurant. Alex’s Carrot Rye Porridge was an artistic, hygge masterpiece.
Next up was Carl White from Nopi, Ottolenghi’s Soho-based restaurant. In true Nopi style, Carl’s Middle Eastern Miso Butterscotch porridge celebrated bold flavours, innovative ingredients and won third place overall. Garnished with mango, apple, pomegranate seeds and coconut shavings – it tasted as stunning as it looked.
Cactus Kitchens offers an array of unique cooking classes in London, and is home of The Michel Roux Jr Cookery School. Representing them was Toby Stuart with his Oat, Spelt and Barley porridge made with toffee apple puree, malt granola clusters, parsnips crisps and Issigny Calvados creme creche. What a mouthful. We couldn’t help going back for more, and more.
Ancient Wisdom Modern Times, Jamu Kitchen blurs the line between food and medicine. Their Turmeric Tamarind Tonic is liquid gold, literally – and the same can be said for Tanita’s Turmeric sunshine porridge. Made using Rude Health almond milk, Turmeric infused Coconut Oil, Malden Sea Salt, Rude Health Daily Oats, Jamu spices and a fresh coconut – it was a mouthful of Southeast Asia, and had oomph.
Came first in fact. Native restaurant provides an eating experience like no other. Their food encapsulates the country’s best wild food native to the UK. Their Meadowsweet porridge was no exception. Made with Oat and Rye Flakes, Meadowsweet, Amaranth, Fennel, Salt, Pumpkin Seeds, Cream, Foraged Crab Apples, Red Shiso and Kentish Wood Ants – it ticked every box, twice. Signe was particularly impressed with the ‘Tartness’ of the bowl. Must have been the ants.
Alexandra Dudley is founder of Punch Foods Super Seeds. Her bowl of Fig and Orange porridge with toasted Hazelnuts was a work of art. And tasted pretty fine too – balanced flavors with a sweet citrus tang. Zing a ling.
Tom Hunt is the acclaimed eco-chef at the award winning Poco (Bristol and London). Author of The Natural Cook, Tom prizes organic, seasonal and British produce. Testament to this, Tom arrived clutching four quince he’d just grabbed at Borough Market. A wave of his spurtle. Voila. A conceptual roasted quince porridge topped with maple glazed pecans and shavings of the finest chocolate.
Niomi Smart, lifestyle blogger and vlogger phenomenon. Author of hot new release, and aptly named Eat Smart, her first plant-based cookbook. Debuting a recipe from Eat Smart, Naomi brewed a bold carrot cake porridge with an artful dash of orange zest. Pudding for breakfast. Yes yes yes.
Modern Baker is a renowned organic bakery in Oxford, baking a range of breads and cakes using only traditional grains, sourdoughs and natural sugars. We loved their innovative sourdough rye, cacao and orange porridge. Move aside Terry.
Alicia Grimshaw, life and soul of a porridge party and Deputy Editor of About Time Magazine. When Cherry Bakewell met Porridge – two worlds collided. When Alicia met Bill (a.k.a. Bills Restaurant) two more worlds collided. The result – a homely, cherry-tastic triumph. And two new friends.
Holistic and healthy Aussie Cafe on Portobello Road. Champions fresh and nutritionally nurturing ingredients. Making purple porridge a thing. Farm Girl bought to the table an exotic acai and chia seed porridge with desiccated coconut, flaked almonds and banana.
The queen of pop-up porridge, Rebecca’s mission is to make a homemade, healthy breakfast available to one and all. Her coconutty, figgy porridge with it’s plums and greek yoghurt sure rocked our bowl. WINNING colours too.
Healthy cafe and juice bar in the heart of Fitzrovia. Using the best organic, locally sourced ingredients Adria puts a zing into healthy food. Out with the bowl, in with the pumkin. We loved Maple and Fitz taking seasonal to the next level with their autumnal pumpkin, maple and turmeric porridge. Innovation in a pumpkin.
Until next year – over n’ oat.
NATIVE basking in their glory…