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It may appear to be simple breakfast preserve, but marmalade can be diabolical to make, according to Mel Wityk.
If you under-cook the citrus rind or if you over-cook the jam once it’s mixed with sugar, you can end up with a rock-like, inedible mess.
Mel Wityk, daughter Isabella and son Matthew, practise for video entries to the Royal Melbourne Show’s cookery competition.Credit:Joe Armao
But competitive cooks like Ms Wityk relish a challenge and they revel in achieving perfection.
The keen exhibitor — last month she sent 65 items 195 kilometres to Ararat by taxi for judging – was bereft when the 2021 Royal Melbourne Show was cancelled due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
But she was stoked to hear of the resurrection, by popular demand, of the show’s art, craft and cookery section, as the all-online Makers and Creators competition.
Entries, which are free, are open until October 12. All entrants must make a 30-second video presenting their items and post it on the Instagram account @artcraftcookery using category or “class” hashtags such as #Makers&CreatorsToys.
Mel Wityk’s prize winning coffee slice at the 2017 Royal Melbourne Show.
If they don’t want others to see their entry, they can submit it via email to [email protected]
While before the pandemic there were about 470 “classes” for competition, this year there are 16.
Open-age classes include photography, lace, toys and decorated cakes. Junior classes (age 5-18) include design technology, decorated cupcakes and a broad art class for all mediums.
Ms Wityk, from Point Cook, will submit a marmalade made of grapefruit, orange and lemon in the open preserves section. Her daughter Isabella, 10, will enter the junior healthy muffin section.
Some of Mel Wityk’s other entries for the 2017 Royal Melbourne Show cookery competition.
Isabella, who already makes home movies with her brother Matthew, 8, will assist with videos.
Ms Wityk, a nurse unit manager at Sunshine Hospital, said work during the pandemic had been “really hard”.
Staff wear face shields and N95 masks and deal with frustrated people who object to restrictions surrounding visiting patients.
Baking is the perfect stress-buster for Ms Wityk: it’s precise, something she can control and she loves feeding people.
Mel Wityk at the 2017 Royal Melbourne Show with her prize winning coffee slice.Credit:Carolyn Webb
“It keeps me occupied. It’s what fills my cup and makes me feel happy.”
Ms Wityk remembers the thrill at the 2017 Royal Melbourne Show of winning Best in Show and topping the slice category for her three-layer coffee slice.
She will miss the camaraderie with other entrants at the showgrounds and admiring others’ creations, but she is still excited about competing online.
“Everyone can at least find some positivity, with the rest of the show not going ahead and with the pandemic.”
Ms Wityk would love to top one past competitor’s ingenuity in turning the rinds of her oranges into little bows, seen suspended in the marmalade.
“I was amazed. It was phenomenal, it’s so outside the box,” she said. “I’d like to try something different like that.”
Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria chief executive officer Brad Jenkins said regular entrants were keen for the 2021 competition to go ahead.
“The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria hopes that the free online Makers and Creators competition inspires some wonderful creativity and provides much enjoyment for many in the community during these extraordinary times,” Mr Jenkins said.
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