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Winner of the Great NI Pork Cook Off

Thursday, May 31, 2018

I was thrilled to be selected as the winner of the Great NI Pork Cook Off. It was hosted and judged by Andrew Smyth, of Great British Bake Off fame, for NI Pork.

When the invitation came from NI Pork to join then and Andrew Smyth for an exclusive cook-off event, I didn’t hesitate before saying yes.

Andrew, who is best know for his appearance on Great British Bake Off, is also an ambassador for NI Pork.  

Off I skipped to Forestside where I was assured that Andrew would provide some top tips on how to prepare perfectly cooked, 100% Northern Irish pork before I was put to the test in a bake-off style cook off (That part actually made me a bit nervous)!

On arrival, I met with Andrew and Deirdre McIvor, Chief Executive of NI Pork.  I then met the other participants, Jayne, Zoe, Hama and Cathy who seemed as apprehensive as me!

Andrew quickly put us at our ease and showed us how to make a couple of canapés, pork belly bites with cucumber ribbons and blinis topped with mascarpone, fig and crisp bacon.  We all had a go at each element involved and then the main part of the evening was happening all too quickly.

We were each allocated a work station and given a mystery bag which contained our ingredients and basic instructions.  Mine was for lemon, basil, garlic and parmesan pork chops (recipe below) and I tried not to panic. This was way out of my comfort zone.  Suddenly the kitchen felt too hot and I was a bit overwhelmed.  I followed the instructions and daringly made a few twists of my own.  Andrew kept popping over to check on how each of us were doing.  That would have been fine except for the camera crew he had in tow which was really disarming.  

I decided to lose the nerves and just try to enjoy myself.  I improvised a bit and tried to focus  on the presentation to distract from the chop as I had no idea if I had cooked it properly!  I even made a tomato lily which I hadn’t done for years!

Once we had completed our dish, we were invited up one by one to present our dishes to Andrew who sampled each of them and made his comments.  After some deliberation he announced me as the winner and I couldn’t have been more chuffed.  I really was delighted but better still, the chop I cooked tasted delicious and I can’t wait to try making it again!

Andrew's NI pork recipe that I cooked

Lemon, Basil & Parmesan Pork Chops

  • 4 pork loin chops
  • Olive Oil
  • Bunch of Fresh Basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 50 ml lemon juice
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)


  • Leaves
  • Avocado
  • Bacon


  • Mix Olive oil, basil, garlic, lemon juice and salt in a bowl.
  •  Combine well. 
  • Griddle pork chops few mins each side.
  •  Spread chops on baking tray.
  • Place herb mix on top of chops – sprinkle parmesan cheese on top to cover.
  •  Grill for 10 mins until cheese is golden brown.
  • Serve with salad (griddle bacon, slice avocado, assemble)



NI Pork was established to promote the local Pigmeat supply chain in Northern Ireland.

The Forum,  is comprised of processors, producers, the grain trade, government and scientists who all support Northern Ireland interests and actively participate in market research, promotion and technical investment for the industry.

The NI Pork Assured Origin label is a feed to fork guarantee: born, reared and processed entirely in Northern Ireland. 

Good for the industry and good for consumers.

Thanks to NI Pork for organising this event and to the other participants, Zoe, Jayne, Hama and Cathy for making it so much fun.  Thanks also to Navigator Blue for inviting me to take part and to Forestside cookery school for hosting.

A special thank you to Andrew Smyth for the top tips, demos and for choosing me as the winner!

Simon and Lisa from Navigator Blue with Andrew Smyth

A short video about my experience

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