Ellie Cook of Anchor Trust's Kirkley Lodge residential care home in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, has been named the best care cook in the UK.
Cook clinched victory in the final of the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Cook of the Year 2012 competition, held this week.
She saw off stiff competition in a year that saw a record number on entries with her two-course menu of lemon chicken and olive tagine, cous cous and roasted vegetable, followed by lemon cheesecake.
The judges praised Cook for the great taste and visual appeal of the dish, and her understanding of nutrition and catering for the care environment.
Now in its 13th year, the NACC Care Cook of the Year competition rewards excellence in care catering.
All entrants were required to create a nutritionally-balanced, innovative and delicious two-course menu, main and dessert, that is suitable for customers in a care environment. Other criteria included a set budget of £1.30 per person, and the meal must be produced in 90 minutes.
This year saw extra emphasis placed on nutrition and the cooks were asked to explain their ingredient choices as part of the judging criteria.
Karen Oliver, national chair of the NACC, offered her congratulations Cook.
"The high standards produced by all the entrants gives a true snapshot of the exceptional work and commitment to good nutrition and hydration care in this sector," she said.
"The competition, the recipes and the high quality of work demonstrated by the competing care caterers should be the benchmark every establishment must aim for."
In addition to taking home the title and a trophy, Cook received £500 and an invitation to cook live at the NACC National Training & Development Forum in Blackpool on 19-21 September.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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