Compers News member Thelma Winyard recently enjoyed a weekend in Belfast with top chef Paul Rankin after winning a recipe competition featured on packs of his Irish soda bread!
"We met Paul Rankinon the Saturday evening at The Belfast Cookery School and he couldn’t have been nicer. He chatted to all the winners, asking us a bit about what had inspired our choices - my winning entry was a bruschetta. He recreated all the winning dishes, adding his own personal touch. So we were eating and drinking steadily for three delicious hours!
This spectacular evening came in the middle of a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. One of our hotel’s main attractions was that it was situated opposite The Crown Liquor Saloon, a renowned Victorian gin palace (or Guinness palace, according to your preference). This beautiful building is owned by the National Trust – the only pub they own, I understand. We also headed for Stormont, home to the Northern Ireland Assembly, were we spent a morning walking in the beautifully maintained gardens and woodland.
There is no way we could have afforded to go out for a meal such as was cooked for us by Paul Rankin. He turned my rather nice Irish Bruschetta into something sensational and I expect the other winners felt the same about their recipes. It was a dinner out of this world. All in all, it was an absolutely one-off evening and a memorable weekend. A unique prize. What a great hobby is comping. Where would we be without it?"