A Tale of Two Champions

Two very different Championships with much in common. The IGCAT European Young Chef 2023 was held last autumn, hosted by European Region of Gastronomy 2023, Hautes-de-France, and the Scottish Bread Championship was held last week, in Fife: the former in a magnificent Hotel School; the latter in a handsome converted barn. It is fair to say the former had a reasonable budget to enable an admirable event whilst the latter ran on a shoe string with a very much appreciated contribution from The Edinburgh Bakers Trust, and sponsorship in kind from myself and fellow founder Andrew Whitley, Scotland The Bread. That said, both had a palpable passion from entrants and judges; both had warmth and fire from the dedicated supporters and organisers, and both had integrity in spades, sometimes lacking in today’s society. Both Andrew and I have judged more awards than had hot dinners so it was vital our combined criteria matched our ideals and standards: fair, principled and transparent. 

So with that brief introduction I invite you to read all about the

 IGCAT European Young Chef 2023 HERE 

and the Scottish event below…

Blessed are the Breadmakers! A Scottish Bread Championship & Festival of Real Bread Round-Up

Much to our delight, entries were up 43% on last year’s and continue to attract an exceptionally high standard of participants. If you are playing catch up you can find all details of the Judging Panel and Full Results HERE. Unfortunately, Johnny Aitken from Lodge on Loch Lomond and Rachel Barclay, cook and fermenter, missed the final photocall so do not appear in the picture but we are immensely grateful to our dozen judges who gave freely of their valuable time and immersed themselves in the very serious business of appraising each morsel. We match judges in twos, with complementary skills and knowledge, and present each entry on a numbered plate, having been anonymised by a separate team of volunteers (led by Douglas, ably assisted by Elizabeth & Margaret) before the judges are welcomed in. By the end of the day there were two clear Champions, alongside an impressive number of Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards. 

Douglas in action keeping us all on track! photo ©️Chris Young

Supreme Champion Station House (Haddington) Spelt Sourdough was a worthy winner with a well-balanced, neatly-formed, charming and flavoursome loaf, fit for any occasion. Reserve Champion Wild Hearth Bakery (Comrie) Tortano – a Potato Crown – was as stunning as it was delicious, well-formed and skilled in every way.

Station House Spelt Sourdough

Sincere thanks to everyone who entered and who, together, make this Championship a firm favourite on the calendar: good for Fife and great for Scotland’s artisan bakers. The land cultivated, the grains grown, harvested, threshed and milled; the skills of the bakers; the enthusiasm of the public to support these family businesses, are all key components of the matrix, and play an important role in our food security and gut health. Never underestimate Real Bread.

Whilst the judges were huddling, those bakers who had personally delivered their entry could head for another room to meet and make friends from across Scotland. Later that evening, while helpers were pouring over spreadsheets, writing press releases and printing off over 100 certificates behind the scenes, there was a Bakers’ Supper, and on Saturday, the Scottish Festival of Real Bread with an incredible range of activities for all ages and stages, many of them free as was entry.

It hopefully opened the eyes of the uninitiated to the world of Real Bread, and to the more seasoned visitor, there were old friends and new to catch up with; crafts to learn; heritage seeds to taste; debate The Good Bread Nation; watch the Scottish première of “Six Inches of Soil” and the new showstopper, “Arise” from the Breadagogues. With breadmaking workshops, threshing, food and drink stalls, Meet the Baker and of course the Winners announced, the day was brimming with bread in every sense of the word. It may have been a chilly day but the warmth within was tangible and I thank every one of you for making it happen. Roll on next year!

Enjoy the happy memories & looking forward to 2025…

Bosse’s knowledge sharing
Alison’s Bread Workshop, photo ©️Chris Young
Elaine’s workshops
Reserve Champion “Tortano” from Wild Hearth Bakery
“Arise” starring Marie-Louise Cochrane, Andrew Whitley & Suzanne Houston, photo ©️Chris Young
Mhor’s Pain-aux-raisin Gold Award

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