The search to find the LACA School Chef of the Year 2016 is now underway following the initial judging stage held last month.
A total of 33 school chefs, from all 10 of the LACA (Lead Association for Catering in Education) regions, have made it through to the live regional heats, which will take place between November 2015 and January 2016.
The annual competition has been organised by LACA for more than two decades and is sponsored by Maggi from Nestlé Professional.
Chefs in the running will have one and a half hours to produce a healthy, balanced main course and dessert that would appeal to 11-year-olds, for a maximum cost of £1.60.
Judging panels will be made up of Maggi at Nestlé Professional food development chef Justin Clarke; a professional local chef; educational catering professional Jacqui Webb, from LACA; and a year six boy and girl from a local school.
Dietician Jasmine Challis from the British Dietetic Association undertook an assessment of the nutritional content of all of the contestants' dishes at the initial judging stage.
Kate Davies (pictured), the LACA School Chef of the Year 2015, will join the panel as a judge at the final.
LACA chair Peter McGrath said: "When the Government introduced Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) in England in September 2014, there was for the first time in many years, a real acknowledgement of the pivotal role school meals play in laying the foundations for children's future eating habits and wellbeing. Since then, more and more children have been reaping the benefits of an improved diet."
He added: "Our school chefs and their teams are passionate about the role they play in educating children and young people about how food and eating better can help them achieve more, both academically and physically."
The national final will be held at Stratford upon Avon College on 10 March 2016.
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