This year, the serene Highland village of Carrbridge will become the global focal point for porridge enthusiasts. On Saturday 7th October 2023, they will gather from the four corners of the globe, congregating in this picturesque setting to witness the exciting finals of a very special event - the 30th anniversary edition of the World Porridge Making Championships. The buzz of anticipation is palpable, as spectators and competitors alike ask one all-important question: What is the secret to making the best porridge?
Credits: Golden Spurtle
Toby Wilson, Australia’s current top-ranked porridge maker, firmly believes that making a winning bowl of porridge only requires three ingredients - and none of them are dairy. A reference to his expertise, Wilson possesses five spurtles, traditional Scottish porridge-making implements.
Credits: Toby Wilson, Instagram
One of these special spurtles was obtained during his stint as a finalist in the 2022 world porridge-making championships, as reported by The Guardian.
The annual world porridge-making championships, to celebrate its 30th birthday this year, is a vibrant event held in Carrbridge, Scottish Highlands. Competitors from around the globe gather for an opening parade and performance from local primary school students, culminating in a spirited yet good-natured competition for the coveted golden spurtle.
Training for the championship involves strict adherence to competition rules, which stipulate that only water, untreated oatmeal, and salt may be used in the traditional porridge category. Wilson, a Sydney chef, diligently followed these rules, enhancing his appreciation for the simple, nuanced flavors of porridge.
Wilson suggests using whole-oat groats and stone-grinding them, although store-bought steel-cut oats can serve as a good alternative. While the use of “Scottish mineral water from the mountains” is ideal, filtered tap water is sufficient. Adding salt is crucial as it brings out flavor and dimension, even more critical with just three ingredients.
Credits: Toby Wilson (Sydney-based taco chef and the World Porridge Making Championship finalist), Instagram
The perfect porridge ratio is one part oats to three parts water. Wilson dismisses the myth that early addition of salt impedes proper oat cooking. After the ingredients reach a high simmer, the temperature is reduced to gently cook the oats. He uses a spurtle to stir the porridge, though a wooden spoon is equally effective. For optimal texture, the oats should be al dente - cooked but retaining a slight bite.
Credits: Golden Spurtle
ELEMENTS OF A CHAMPIONSHIP-WINNING PORRIDGE:
• untreated oatmeal, water (tap or mineral), salt
• one part oats, three parts water
• achieve high simmer, then gradually reduce the temperature
• stir the porridge with a spurtle or wooden spoon
• top with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar
To finish, Wilson tops his porridge with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar, creating a creamy, salty, buttery, and chewy mixture. For those accustomed to the flavor of milk in their porridge, he suggests having a small bowl of cold cream on the side to dip in spoonfuls of the hot porridge, for a delightful hot-cold contrast.