Honours were shared between Bishop Andrew and Rev Paul Lyons when they came face-to-face in a special ‘cook off’ in St Mary’s Church Parish Hall in Macosquin. The ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ event was the brainchild of Select Vestry member, Lilian, Davis, and was organised as part of the Parish of Camus-Juxta-Bann’s 400thanniversary celebrations, which are taking place throughout this year.

The scores of parishioners and friends who crammed into the hall were treated first to a culinary masterclass by the renowned celebrity chef, Jenny Bristow, who made the preparation and cooking of a soda bread-Ulster Fry combination and a savoury tart look very easy. Regrettably, the Rector, Rev Lyons, and his Bishop followed soon afterwards and showed, very quickly, how difficult cookery can be.

Jenny – a native of Macosquin – had set their clergymen the task of making and baking a soda bread scone, followed by baked Alaska. Egged on by their enthusiastic audience, the would-be chefs threw themselves into the challenge wholeheartedly. At one point, word came through from the kitchen that one of the loaves of bread was a tad overdone but it didn’t put either man off his stroke.

Bishop Andrew was ‘up’ for the challenge. ‘He’s an awful nice fellow,” he said of his rival,”but he’s not much of a baker.” The Bishop was soon made to eat his words.

At the end of the cook-off, braver members of the audience had a chance to sample the fare before the hall voted to decide who had won. The result was a triumph for diplomacy, with the Rector coming out tops in the soda bread contest and Bishop Andrew ‘taking gold’ with his baked Alaska.The evening ended with a short reflection by Bishop Andrew about the staples in our lives – the things that matter most in our lives: food to eat, families who love us, homes to live in, job security. “It’s interesting that whenever Jesus comes into the world,” the Bishop said, “one of the messages that he tries to share with all of us is that the staple for life – the everyday necessity for life, the thing that sustains life, that blesses life, that enriches life – is being close to God. That’s what matters. The one thing that Christians say is unchangeable, unshakeable, unconditional, is God’s love for us. As one writer says, there’s nothing we can do to make God love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us less. He loves us. And it strikes me that whenever we go ‘off staple’, whenever we go off what really matters in life, that’s when we end up running into problems and into difficulties.”