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Texas woman successfully spars for the spurtle

They came to cook, to win first place, and to bring the Golden Spurtle back to Oregon.

And when the culinary dust settled last weekend, one woman, Paula Todora, was left standing. Her “Steel Your Heart Away Eggrolls,” filled with Bob’s Red Mill steel-cut oats, Granny Smith apples, walnuts and raisins mixed with sugar, spices and maple syrup stole the judges’ hearts. She will fly to Scotland in October to enter the 20th Annual Golden Spurtle World Championships.

Before the event, Todora said, “Steel-cut oats are all about the heartland of America, so I wanted something that defined America and what is more American than apple pie?”

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Matt Cox, left, marketing director for Bob's Red Mill, and Bob Moore, founder of the company, congratulate winner Paula Todora.When told she was the winner, she enveloped Bob Moore, founder of Bob’s Red Mill, in a hug, saying, “Your dream and vision inspired me to make my dish. I thank you on behalf of all home cooks; I represent each and every one of them. I’ll do you proud.”

Todora, who hails from Keller, Texas, defeated Camilla Saulsbury, from Nacogdoches, Texas, and Carl Youngmann, from Port Townsend, Wash., in a Friday, Aug. 16, head-to head cook-off in front of three judges and a crowd of spectators at the Bob’s Red Mill Store in Milwaukie.

The event began when a bagpiper led participants and judges through the store and into the cooking area. Seattle resident Peter McKee entertained the group with a song he wrote, celebrating the spurtle, a traditional Scottish kitchen tool used to stir porridge. Playing his banjo, McKee’s performance elicited laughs when he sang: “Oatmeal and porridge, they really are the same, but you’ve gotta have a spurtle if you want to play this game.”

Matthew Cox, the marketing director for Bob’s Red Mill and winner of the Golden Spurtle in 2009, welcomed guests, saying, “This event is the culmination of our quest for the ultimate oatmeal warrior in an international competition in Scotland.”

Cox added, “We won the coveted Scottish treasure in 2009; last year we won; and now we want to win again.”

He introduced the three judges: Kim Sunee, author of “Mad Hungry;” Vitaly Paley, owner and chef of Paley’s Place, the Imperial and Portland Penny Diner; and Lucinda Scala Quinn, author of “Trail of Crumbs” and food editor for Martha Stewart Living.

Before turning on the timer, Cox explained that the cooks were to be given 40 minutes to cook their dishes.

“I never guessed how wonderful it would be” using whole grains in unusual dishes, Moore said after the competition results were announced.

For additional information, visit sparforthespurtle.com or bobsredmill.com.



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