Alex Morte, a chef from Signature Senior Living at Coombe Hill Manor in Kingston upon Thames, has been named the best care cook in the UK.
At 21, he is the youngest person to have walked away with the title, after seeing off tough competition at the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Cook of the Year 2016 final earlier today (8 June).
Morte represented the South East region for the NACC and was described as the "clear winner" by chair of judges Simon Fooks, Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Cooks.
He also won the highly commended main course award for his dish of grilled hake, charred asparagus, peas puree, crispy dill potatoes, crispy bacon and grilled vine cherry tomatoes.
For dessert he produced a dark chocolate & salted caramel delice with a chocolate tuile.
The NACC Care Cook of the Year is the first competition Morte has entered. He said: "I couldn't be happier to have won. It's a great feeling and I'm absolutely over the moon. I was nervous at first but once I got into the kitchen and started cooking, I found it a really enjoyable experience. The heats were even more nerve-wracking."
The winner of the highly commended dessert award went to Martin McKee of the Hawthorns, from the Midlands region, for his white chocolate mousse, coconut sponge and passion fruit curd.
McKee was also named the NACC Care Cook of the Year 2016 runner-up, while Alan Cash of Mildenhall Lodge, Care UK, also from the South East region, took third place in the competition.
A total of 12 chefs competed in this year's final at Barking & Dagenham's Technical Skills Academy.
They had just 90 minutes to produce a nutritionally-balanced and innovative two-course menu suitable for customers in a care environment at a cost of £1.50 per head.
Neel Radia, national chair of the NACC, offered his congratulations to Morte and praised the other 11 finalists for creating fierce competition.
He said: "This year saw an unprecedented number of entries from across the UK. Every year I am amazed by the culinary skills displayed by the chefs, which is testament to the high standards within the care sector.
"It is an incredible achievement in itself to get to the final."