The Winning Dish - delicious

Photo:Part of the School

Part of the School

Photo - Pat McGovern

c. 1970 Secondary School, competition, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo

By Nuala Golden

Competitions are good. Even if, at the end, you do not wear the laurels, at least you have gained something in one way or another. The excitement and challenge and the fun experienced with fellow-competitors are well worth the effort of competing and I found all this to be true, when I took part recently in the “Roma Recipe” Competition.

It was late Autumn when the competition was announced and the first stage was o take place at school level. This was not my first time taking part in a competition, so I decide to try again before finishing in school. Each competitor had to cook and serve two specified dishes- one a Rice and the other a Pasta dish and whoever produced the best two dishes would be deemed the school winner. For this she would receive a Certificate. Here my good luck began for, to my surprise, mine were judged the best dishes.

As a second step in the competition I had to compose two original dishes- a rice and a pasta dish again and send them to Roma Foods. This did not prove quite as simple or easy as one might think, but it was an interesting piece of home- work and the effort was well rewarded. On the eve of the Christmas School Concert I received a notice from Roma Foods that my recipes had won for me the Regional Award. This was a nice Christmas present indeed, and now I was to represent the Region (Mayo & Galway) in the National Final to be held in Dublin early in the New Year.

At last the big day dawned. March 7th it was and with snow and frost on the ground it took quite a bit of courage to face the journey by car. Would it be worth the risk?? Time would tell! Dublin was enjoying glorious sunshine when we got there at 11.30. Competitors were treated to Lunch in the Gresham Hotel at 12.30 and after that we got down to our task in St. Mary’s College, Cathal Brugha Street.

There were twenty of us- 10 Juniors and 10 Seniors. My place was in the latter group and each girl had now to cook and serve her two original dishes in the presence of supervisors. When all were finished the dishes were judged by a panel of experts and then transported to the Aberdeen Hall of the Gresham where they were admired by the parents and teachers of the competitors and by many others—all of whom were invited for the occasion.

            Then came the presentation of prizes by Miss Lola Heffernan, D. Sc. I. Each Regional winner received a Certificate and a Cookery Book of Classic dishes, but the best was yet to be and when my name was called out as the winner of the best Rice dish I could scarcely believe my ears! I was more than a little excited as I mounted the stage in front of a cheering audience to receive as prize- a crystal cut-glass trophy and a cheque for £5.

The winner of the Pasta dish received a similar prize and the teachers of the winners were presented with crystal cut-glass also.

Here was my second surprise! Was it worth the risk? Certainly it was and now I treat you to my winning dish --





6 ozs. Roma Rice.                                           Meringue

Large tin of mandarins                                                2 Egg whites.

6 ozs. Sugar.                                                    Tablespoon of Castor Sugar               

¾ pt. custard sauce.

Orange essence.         

To decorate: Mandarins, angelica, green cherries and blanched whole almonds.



  1. Cook rice in fruit juice and a little water
  2. Make sauce, sweeten and flavours.
  3. Mix rice and custard sauce.
  4. Arrange rice mixture and mandarins in alternate layers, in a greased dish – keeping back some of the mandarins for decoration. Stiffly beat egg whites and castor sugar and pile roughly on top of rice.
  5. Decorate with mandarins, cherries, angelica and almonds.
  6. Bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes.
  7. Serve hot or cold.
This page was added by Averil Staunton on 03/05/2015.