Mayo woman Joanne Clarke was declared the winner of The Taste of Success on RTÉ One on Tuesday night scooping one of the biggest prizes in Irish television. In the dramatic finale of the eight-week programme, The Taste of Success viewers saw Joanne Clark, a 43-year-old single mum from Westport, Co Mayo, emerge victorious with her nutty brioche and butter pudding. She wins a prize worth €100,000 and her product is now available on the shelves of more than 140 Lidl Ireland stores nationwide. The victory marks a major turnaround in fortunes for Joanne Clark. During the final viewers heard how she has struggled financially in recent years with the bank repossessing her home.
“All through the competition, I had been really confident about the product, thinking it could go all the way, but you can never dare to dream. Any time someone broached the subject about the prize I would start talking about something else,” she said. “I suppose, even though I count myself as a positive thinker, I didn't want to risk dreaming about what I would do with the win and then maybe be disappointed. I made a conscious effort to just live in the moment, and enjoy the experience, and I have to say I loved every minute of it. I really enjoyed developing the product and tweaking it along the way. I hope people like it. I am still in shock. The impact of winning this prize is going to be huge for me.”
The Taste of Success, produced by RTÉ Cork and sponsored by Lidl Ireland, travelled around the country, with mentors JP McMahon, Domini Kemp, Catherine Fulvio, Martin Shanahan, and host Dáithí Ó Sé sampling the wares of food innovators from Donegal to Bantry and everywhere in between. The regional champions honed their product with their mentors before facing the Lidl judges, including chef Paul Flynn, and they ultimately chose the winner. In the final, viewers watched as Connacht/Ulster victor Joanne Clarke battled it out with Dublin regional champion Ken McHugh to win The Taste of Success and saw her revealed as the winner when the curtain dropped to reveal her product at Lidl Ireland’s flagship store.
Dáithí Ó Sé said: “I had a feeling that Joanne’s brioche and butter pudding was in with a great chance when I first had a taste of it at our Athenry heat. She is a very worthy winner. We travelled around the country and met some extremely creative and enthusiastic people – there are great things happening in food in this country and it’s great to see someone like Joanne get the boost that this prize gives.” Winning in his first year on the show, Joanne’s mentor Michelin-starred chef JP McMahon said he was delighted to see Joanne take home the prize," he said. “It couldn’t happen to a more worthy person and I think it is something that is absolutely going to change her life."