“ORDINARY, honest to goodness chips” were the order of the day as Rene Cusack won the second World Chip Championship in Limerick.
The centrepiece of the second annual Culture & Chips festival held in the city’s Arthur’s Quay Park at the weekend, Mariusz Krzys, who works for the fishmonger in the Milk Market, beat two other contestants to land the title.
While other contestants dressed their chips with weird and wonderful toppings, Mariusz cooked simple Maris Piper chips, alongside squid rungs, dipped in an own recipe five-herb flour seasoning. A home-made tartare sauce finished the dish off.
Paul Cusack of Rene Cusack - which employs 30 people locally - was delighted with the win.
“It is a bit of fun. We want to support Limerick, and support events in Limerick. It is all about participating and making fun for people in Limerick, and making a difference to Limerick,” he said.
Mariusz explained that there was “no secret - the potatoes are freshly cut, and freshly cooked – only once. No double cooking, no frills, these are fully fresh and cooked to perfection. That is it.”
Also taking part in the final were Caherdavin man Roger Beck, manager of the Parkway Shopping Centre, who cooked chips stuffed with fish, and Italian man Luigi Bastianelli of Ryan’s fish and chips in Raheen, cooked fries with taco sauce, with bacon.
“It’s nice with a few pints,” he said.
The three contestants had to cook the dish and serve it with an accompaniment in just 45 minutes, before judges Nick Munier, Masterchef Ireland, Lorraine Fanneran, La Cucina and Deirdre O’Shaughnessy, Cork FM, decided on a winner.
Judge Lorraine from Castletroy’s La Cucina was impressed with the standard of the entries, saying: “They are looking great”.
Asked what she looks for in a chip, she said: “Obviously, the standard of the chips. We have lots of different types of chips. We have thick chips, thin chips. A lot of it depends on the flavour, the fluffiness inside, and the accompaniments to go with it. You need something different.”
Compered by Myles Breen, it as the second time Limerick has played host to the World Chip Championship, which was held inside an early 20th century ‘Spiegeltent’, which was erected in Arthur’s Quay Park for the weekend.
The competition was just one of 15 events held for the second Culture & Chips festival, which finishes with a concert from acclaimed singer-songwriter Eddi Reader this Tuesday night.
The festival kicked off on Thursday night with a chip banquet, with the tables removed for a gig by Mick Flannery, and a 1990s club night on Friday.
The Spiegeltent rocked to the beat of the drum on Saturday as a special musical event for children was held and Paul Noonan and Gemmay Hayes performed that night, while on Sunday, Hermitage Green played before a sold out audience.
Bank Holiday Monday saw a circus skills workshop, while the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra brought the Spiegeltent to life that evening.
Nigel Dugdale, one of the organisers of Culture and Chips, said: “It has been a great weekend. The park has been packed. There has been a really good atmosphere, and I think people will come away with a good feeling about Culture & Chips.”
The city centre also played host to a number of other events over the weekend, including the TomCat festival, which saw traders in Thomas Street and Catherine Street team up with arts groups for the returning festival.
A metallic cat from this festival even paid a visit to the Spiegeltent during the World Chip Championship - and headed straight to the bar - causing laughter among those present.
With the TomCat festival, and the Irish Chamber Orchestra playing in the Milk Market on Thursday and Friday night, Nigel believes there is scope for these events to merge in the future “and come up with one big festival for Limerick city.”