John Grover of Auchtercrag House Care Home in Ellon, Aberdeenshire, has been crowned 2018 NACC Care Chef of the Year.
The culinary competition, organised by the National Association of Care Catering (NACC), seeks out the UK’s best chef working in the care sector.
Barking & Dagenham College’s Technical Skills Academy hosted the final, where 12 chefs from across the country showcased their talents under the scrutiny of the panel of judges.
Grover’s menu of lamb with black pudding and herbs followed by chocolate and raspberry fondant cheesecake with caramel port cream stood out to the judges, who were impressed with his well-presented dishes that showed inventive use of classic ingredients and featured varied textures.
They also highlighted his use of inexpensive produce, and his knowledge and understanding of the needs of care home residents was praised.
Grover said: “I’m absolutely elated to have won. This is the fourth year I’ve entered the competition and this year’s menu has been a year in the planning. I took on board the judges’ comments from previous years, practised in a different kitchen, and got my residents and various people in and out of the industry to try my dishes and give feedback. Planning and practice was definitely the key.”
Martin McKee of the Hawthorns in Aldridge, Walsall, took second place, with Brian Gollan of Ivybank House Care Home in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, taking third place.
Gollan was also awarded Highly Commended Main and David Oswin of Loxley Park, Sheffield, took the certificate for Highly Commended Dessert.
Neel Radia, the NACC’s national chair, said: “It was an exciting and closely fought final, so John should be incredibly proud of himself, as should all of the finalists.
“This fantastic competition helps us ensure that care chefs up and down the country receive the recognition and respect they deserve for the challenging and rewarding work they do.”
The competition requires entrants to create a nutritionally balanced, two-course menu (main and dessert) that is suitable for service users in a care setting. The combined food cost for both courses must be no more than £2.25 per head based on three portions and it is to be produced in just 90 minutes.