Source: Valley Roadrunner

Get ready for the 20th Annual Irish Stew cook off and Bash

February 27, 2014

Dust off your stew pots and call Aunt Kate for her best Irish stew recipe, it is time to get ready for Valley Center’s annual Irish stew cook off and St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

The event will be held on Thursday, March 13 at St. Stephen’s Parish Hall on 31020 Cole Grade Rd from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. It costs just $7 per person or $20 for a family to come and enjoy the 18 different stews prepared by local cooks, watch the Irish dancers, bid on the bribe baskets by silent auction, enjoy a pint at The Irish pub, see the Miss Valley Center contestants and be a part of fun with lots of mischief occurring during the evening.

There will also be a costume contest for the best Little Miss Irish Miss and Best Leprechaun for children. The Valley Center Chamber of Commerce will also be presenting the candidates for the mayoral contest. Mark your calendar today and plan to come to this event. Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and it is a good time to kick up your Irish.

For 20 years now, Kathleen McKewan, who started the Irish Stew Cook Off event, has encouraged people of the valley to come together as a community, cook up a fine pot of stew and celebrate their Irish roots at one big event. Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, so why not join in the fun?

Here is how the Irish Cook Off works:

Each year, contestants search the internet and recipe books to find a good stew and then they make it at home, call it Irish stew and bring the cooked stew to the event and share it with all the guests who come to the event.

Is the stew Irish?

“Oh heaven only knows about that, folks who cook just make a good pot of stew that family and friends like to eat,” said McKewan. “Besides, none of the judges are Irish anyhow and would not know an Irish stew to save their souls”.

Judges determine the winners based on appearance, smell and taste.

The panel of judges, who by the way, are last year’s winners of the Irish stew cook off, determine the best stew in each category of Business, Service Club and Individuals. The judges also will select winners of the best table decorations and best bribe basket of the evening. Winners in the category will also become judges for the next year event. It is good to be a judge!

The Irish Stew Committee is currently taking applications from anyone who would like to be part of this fun event and it is easy to enter. If you can cook a good pot of stew, Irish or not, you are encouraged to call McKewan, event founder and organizer at 760-497-7007 or by email at to get an application. Applications can also be downloaded from the website at

“Last year was our biggest event and we encourage people to come early and buy their tickets at the door,” McKewan said.

The Irish stew cook off is a family community event open to everyone and proceeds from the event benefit local students in college scholarships. This event is sponsored by the St. Stephen’s Knights of Columbus.

The rules are pretty simple; prepared two crock pots of Irish stew, decorate your table and bring one big bribe basket for a judge. Entry fee is $10