Barilaro roasted in lasagne cook-off

GOLDEN, gooey strands of cheese, slow-cooked sauce, soft sheets of luscious pasta and melt in your mouth meat: that's how the judges described Queanbeyan's best lasagne.

But it wasn't local member John Barilaro's lasagne they were raving about, despite the keen amateur cook putting up a strong entry.

Instead, it was Walsh's Hotel Chef, Michael Bagley who was crowned Queanbeyan's lasagne king at Monday's culinary challenge, raising almost $3,000 for the Queanbeyan Special Needs Group.

More than 50 lasagne connoisseurs, keen punters and spectators packed Walsh's Hotel to taste the competition dishes and donate to an organisation that's helped more than 90 families with special needs children for over 18 years.

The judges conceded it was a tight contest for first place between Mr Barilaro and well-known local chef Mr Bagley. The score was seven votes to Mr Bagley and six votes to Mr Barilaro.

"Both dishes looked fantastic and tasted delicious; in the end it was really up to personal preference and Mr Bagley's dish won by one point," said Ken Roberts, Queanbeyan Special Needs Group member and lasagne competition judge.

"We are very grateful for all the money raised which will be used to purchase teaching aids and equipment to continue the work the group to give children with special needs a better start in life."

Mr Bagley said he was proud that his cuisine reigns supreme.

"I am very passionate about creating dishes that people love to eat and my lasagne is no exception," he said.

As for the secret to his success, he said "It's in the sauce."

"I use fresh herbs and spices and let the flavour develop by cooking it slowly, the best meat is also crucial.

"But at the end of the day the secret to great lasagne is finding a recipe with ingredients that you love and that you enjoy cooking. John served a tasty and good looking lasagne and should be pleased with the dish he created," he said.

Despite being disappointed with second place, Mr Barilaro said the most important element of the night was money raised for a good cause.

"I'm obviously no stranger to tight contests; I am humbled that Mick thought my lasagne was good enough to be served in a restaurant and I congratulate him on an excellent dish," Mr Barilaro said.

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