Suttonian Mary Drum knows what it’s like to feel the pressure of lights, cameras and clock ticking action, as a contestant on a competitive cookery television programme. At a time when so many devote their evenings to the lockdown TV staples of property and competitive cookery vehicles, it could be said that she’s emerged as a winner in both.
Back in 2008 when Mary Berry was still selling sauce and MasterChef was just another humdrum off-peak show, Drum entered RTÉ’s pioneering Cook of the Year competition. She made her way through the heats and eventually to the final where she would emerge victorious and be crowned Ireland’s Cook of the Year.
“I wanted to do something different so I entered. I was really very nervous about cooking in front of the cameras. But when it came down to it, it was alright and I managed ok.”
In the grand final Drum nailed it with her prawn and salsa spring rolls starter combined with stuffed fillet of lamb with spring herbs. For desert, she laid out her speciality rhubarb ‘three way’ with a fool, a combination almond and rhubarb tart and a soufflé. The judges made her the overall winner.
Her grand prize was a crystal trophy and €10,000 worth of Kenwood appliances.
“As it happened I already owned a trusty 20-year-old Kenwood Chef that I used all the time. Then this huge pallet arrived outside the house with a mountain of stuff piled up on it. There were four toasters, four mixers, four coffee machines and loads and loads of other appliances. You can imagine what €10,000 worth of appliances looks like. By the time we’d unpacked it all, the house looked like an electrical shop! While it was wonderful to win the prize, we really didn’t know what to do with all this stuff.”
So Ireland’s newly crowned Cook of the Year got back on to RTÉ to see if they could suggest something. “They were really lovely and exchanged a lot of it for a voucher that I could use. It still took a year to dispose of all the remaining spare appliances. And on the day after the last of it went, my trusty old Kenwood blew up. So I had to go out and buy one!”
Mary is the widow of the late Denis Drum, a well known figure in the Irish antiques and fine arts sector, who sadly passed away in 2018. Dominating the business in Dublin’s north county, Denis was well known in Malahide where, with the local chamber of commerce, he was instrumental in driving measures to spruce up the village to the showpiece it is today.
In particular he was behind a drive to having electrical wires removed from the town and the installation of antique style French lighting. He also appeared on TV through the 1990s as a talented antiques appraiser on RTÉ’s Treasure Island, renowned especially for his knowledge of pottery and porcelain.
Denis made an impression with his wit and sartorial style with signature dickie bow and hat, including an Amish style summer straw hat which today hangs in the summer room at their home Melrose at Station Road, Sutton.