The great lasagne cook-off

WHAT started as friendly culinary challenge has escalated into a full-blown foodie feud between Walsh's Hotel chef, Michael Bagley, and Member for Monaro and keen cook, John Barilaro, over who dishes up Queanbeyan's best lasagne.

After plenty of bluster and bravado the two have finally agreed to an objective analysis of their talents next month. A financial wager has been placed between the two, with the loser to make a donation to the Queanbeyan Special Needs Group.

"I've got 200 years of family tradition behind my recipe, so I am surprised that Mick has accepted my challenge so readily," Mr Barilaro said.

"Like all politicians, John talks a good game, but I don't think he's a match against a professional. He just won't be able to handle the pressure," Mr Bagley replied.

Walsh's Hotel will be transformed into Queanbeyan's answer to 'kitchen stadium' when the two square-off on February 5. A mutually agreed judging panel will undertake a blind tasting to provide for an unprejudiced analysis of the two dishes.

Mr Barilaro is keen to regain his lost reputation after recently losing the Italian festival's spaghetti eating competition, ending a 16 year run as local champion,

"Although my parliamentary duties have prevented me spending as much time in the kitchen as I would like, I have found opportunities to keep my skills up. Last year I cooked lasagne for the entire town of Bibbenluke - when I opened the new kitchen in their community hall," Mr Barilaro said.

"I even cooked a vegetarian lasagne as a farewell gift for one of my Greens opponents.

"I look forward to Mick making a big donation to the Queanbeyan Special Needs Group."

Mr Bagley, who has run Michael's at Walsh's for seven years, said he's pleased that the gauntlet has finally been thrown down.

"The Barilaro lasagne comes with a good reputation, but I am extremely confident that mine is more than the match. I've got tricks and techniques that I've learnt in the industry that John wouldn't have even heard of and I'm not going to be pulling any punches," Mr Bagley said.

"This town isn't big enough for the two of us."

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