Sedgwick cook Julie Drechsler has won 99 firsts at Bendigo Show

Julie Drechsler
Julie Drechsler

Julie Drechsler could win her 100th first for cooking at next month's Bendigo Show. 

The Sedgwick resident and former nurse recently realised she had 99 certificates stored for her "firsts" - cooking entries which received the top award in their category -  at Bendigo Shows over the years.

"I was throwing stuff out, and I sat down and counted them all with my niece, I had no idea," she said.

Mrs Drechsler said she started entering her cooking at country shows when she was 15 years old, in 1966. 

Some 48 years later, she is still as passionate about it as ever.

For one week each year, her farm kitchen gets turned upside down while she produces a smorgasbord of tasty delights to submit as entries. 

"Show week always manages to coincide with the week my husband needs to do the shearing," she said.

"So you’re not only making cakes for the show, you're cooking for the shearers." 

Her entries at Bendigo Show over the years have included sponges, slices, jam, cupcakes, pasties, pikelets, quiches and sausage rolls - but Mrs Drechsler said her favourite was fruit cakes.

"I do it because it’s hard to get right," she said. 

"It's got to be the right colour. You've got to cut up all the fruit even, and the cherries and nuts to a uniform size." 

She admitted there had been some memorable failures from time to time over the years. 

"(My mother and I) were going into town for the show in the car one year and she was holding my desert in a champagne glass, the flat kind," Mrs Drechsler said.

"I did a beautiful sweet, it could have gone in Women’s Weekly or anything, and she was holding it for me and we had to stop suddenly and of course it smashed.

"She felt terrible, but it wasn’t her fault, the car stopped in front us."  

Even the most spectacular failure would usually end up being someone else's tasty treat, she said. 

"I used to work in a pathology department and all my friends there loved the show, because I’d bring in all my failures in for morning tea," Mr Drechsler said.

For the baked goods and creations that did make the cut, show day was usually a bit of blur.  

"I used to race up there at a million miles an hour, and I’d run it all in and some of the other exhibitors would frown at me, because I had to go to work," she said.

Mrs Drechsler said being absent often meant she was the last to know about her wins. 

"I won the rich fruit cake last year so, if you win that you have to make one for the northern district of Victoria.

"This year it was held in Swan Hill. Afterwards, when I went to pick it up, I was told it won."  

She said her favourite memory of it all was in 1983.

"I had a very sad, personal year. I wasn't going to put anything in the show and my mum said go on put something in the show," she said.

"And I won the aggregate prize, the exhibitor who had the most firsts for that year.

"I had no idea, I didn't even go (to the show). I also met my husband that year, so it was a special year."  


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