My Winning Speech

As promised, below you will find the words that make up my winning speech.  I say words because, as with all good speeches, words alone cannot convey the three key elements of vocal variety that were so essential to the delivery of this speech – pace, pitch and pause.

Some of you might feel an element of familiarity regarding the story, and indeed, this speech began as a much longer speech (Making Spaghetti) that I wrote more than 18 months ago and shared here on my blog soon after I first delivered it at a club meeting.

Some months later, several actually, one of my fellow members mentioned how good that speech was and that it would make a terrific speech for the Humorous Speech Contest.  Thank you, Judith, for sewing the seeds of inspiration in my mind.

Speeches are ideas we build upon, constantly improving and honing the message we wish to convey, and in this case, reducing the content to conform to the specified contest time limit of 5 – 7 minutes.  Although the word count doesn’t vary a great deal, the message is more powerful and this final version more than 150 words shorter than my first (edited) draft.

This speech has gone through many iterations since and I hope you enjoy reading what is now the version that saw me win the title of District Champion. 

Speech Title:  Fuel Production

Contest Toastmaster, ladies and gentlemen. How long should it take to perfect a recipe? Thirty years ago I started working on my own formula for spaghetti and I still haven’t got it right. And while I thought I was a master chef, I guess that makes me a slow cooker.

I admit it’s not a complex Italian Bolognaise, just an easy Aussie spag bol, and all those years ago, my husband and I thought it was the perfect fuel for our little growing family. Once a week, I’d proudly place a huge bowl in the centre of the table and we’d laugh and enjoy this hearty meal together. As we strengthened our bond, all was right with the world.

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

Until our little girls met that little pig called Babe and henceforth refused to eat bacon. When I removed it from my ingredient list, Mr Three Meats and Veg threw a hissy fit, so I solved this problem by producing two types of fuel. Standard with bacon and unleaded without.

When our eldest daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease, two fuels became three. Standard with bacon, unleaded without, and super unleaded made with rice pasta. But we still laughed as we enjoyed our meal and all was right with the world.

Until our two youngest daughters declared they would be vegetarians. Suddenly I had to reverse engineer the way in which I was producing fuel, adding the aromatics to the vegetables first, simmering to develop the flavours, halving the quantity and setting the “vegetarian” sauce aside while adding the other half to the mince, then halving the mince and only adding the bacon to that which remained. Easy.

Three fuels became four. Standard with bacon, unleaded without, super unleaded made with rice pasta, and premium unleaded. Which essentially amounted to pasta with spicy tomato sauce, but we all sat down and ate at the same time, and all was right with the world.

Until one of our little vegetarians became a vegan. Surprisingly enough, I could no longer sauté mushrooms in butter, nor toss through a handful of Parmesan cheese. I had to completely re-engineer my entire fuel assembly line and somehow fabricate a fancy new “E10” variety.

Today I will demonstrate how, as I walk you through the simultaneous production of multiple fuels. Wings that won’t work, however, do require the assistance of a good sous chef. A partner, a playmate, a passer-by. It doesn’t matter who you get, just get someone to slice and dice and weigh and measure all the ingredients before you begin.

Then, in one pan, cook the diced bacon and set this aside. Thoroughly wash this pan before adding the mince to brown. It’s ok to leave the mince in this pan, but in another pan, and using a completely different cooking utensil, sauté diced onion, capsicum and mushrooms in, Nuttalex. When that’s done, three-quarters of the aromatics are added to the vegetables and the balance is added to the mince. Using the appropriate cooking utensil, stir through and allow those flavours to develop.

Working quickly, add large tins of vegan-friendly diced tomatoes to the pan containing the sautéed veggies and give it a stir. Put a pot on to boil at the back of the stove and, you know what, just throw the pasta in. Don’t worry that the water’s not boiling; it’s pasta, it can take care of itself. Lid the sauce because by now it’s popping and spitting all over everything. Put the kettle on to boil to blanch the rice pasta. Mash the mince to remove the lumps, and for goodness sake don’t let anything burn.

Now it gets tricky. Half the vegetable sauce must be added to the meat, the other half must be halved again so Parmesan cheese can be hidden in one portion for Miss Vegetarian, and the other portion remains cheese free for Miss Vegan. Half the meat sauce must have the bacon added for Mr Three Meats and Veg, but the other half must remain bacon free for Miss I Don’t Eat Bacon Anymore.

Three-quarters of the pasta can have a little herbed butter stirred through, the other portion can just have herbs and Nuttalex thrown on top. I still have to finish the rice pasta, grate more Parmesan, and I can’t forget that Miss Vegan likes a little bean curd cheese on the side.

This is when I remember the wine. Oops. It never gets into the food.

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

I don’t even bother mixing them together anymore, so with four sauces, three pastas, and two types of cheese, that’s nine bowls of food placed in the centre of the table for five people to put the finishing touches on their preferred fuel. Mealtime is a free for all that sees my plate containing a mixture of wheat and rice pasta, dollops of each type of fuel, including that fancy E10, and I’m not laughing anymore.

My frustration aside, there we are, a family, enjoying a meal together, strengthening our bond, and all is right with the world.

It’s been a long time since our girls lived at home, and my husband and I cherish those special occasions when they gather around our table with their partners. A fish-eating pescatarian, a chicken eating pollotarian, and our lacto-ovo-vegetarian soon-to-be-son-in-law. With our eldest daughter and her caveman, I’m sorry, her paleo diet, these days I have perfected a new type of fuel – lettuce.


Contest Toastmaster.

© Clare Horan, 2018
Toastmasters International
District 69, 2018 Humorous Champion


Author: Clare

Ever-expanding one star at a time, my cosmos is a galaxy of thoughts and creativity where you can find poetry, short stories, photography and so much more.

11 thoughts

    1. Thank you, Denise. I must admit, knowing you were in the audience allowed me to feel (a little) relaxed, more confident, and ‘ready to do my thing’. You have always been a staunch supporter of me, and the journey I have undertaken, and words will never express my gratitude adequately enough 🥰


  1. Great speech. It likely rang true for all the family cooks in the audience. We recently went on a little trip with our grown daughters and their families. While we had access to cooking facilities, I knew meal planning would be a nightmare. We ate out every meal. Happily and together.


    1. It certainly did connect with the audience, a key element in the judging criteria, and luckily (or sadly), although I lived this for many years, now I only cook one type of fuel – Standard.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanx Calen, that was the message in the speech – that despite my frustration with all the various versions of spaghetti being cooked all at once, eating together as a family and strengthening our bond made all the problems of the world pale into insignificance.


  2. loved it Clare, you deserved the win… and I share your pain…in my family I have a coeliac, vegetarian and a lactose intolerant plus the 3 meat and spuds…a catering nightmare….Sue


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