The finalists of the Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA) School Chef of the Year 2014 awards have been decided.
Each of the 43 finalists will now compete in regional finals - in Eastern, East Midlands, West Midlands, North East & Scotland, Yorkshire & Humber, North West, Wales, South East, South West and London regions - during February and March, with regional winners going on to compete for the national title in May 2014.
The overall winner will receive £500, a commemorative plaque, vocational training and invitations to high profile catering industry events during the following year.
The 90-minute regional finals will see contestants prepare a main dish and a dessert that will appeal to 11-year-old students, at a cost of £1.60 per head.
Menus must showcase the chefs' skills and suitability as school cooks, and represent the diverse heritage of many of the UK's school children. Dishes that will be showcased during the event use global ingredients and flavours and include Indian stuffed chicken breast, Thai turkey curry with stir fried vegetables, Peruvian chicken, Senegalese chicken with vegetable & lemon couscous, and Malaysian beef stew with pineapple and red pepper salad.
Desserts feature Machu Picchu chocolate pots and pyramid panna cotta, Waspberry wobble, apple & cinnamon samosas, and Superhero biscotti.
The competition rules state that each menu must use a minimum of two products from awards sponsor MAGGI at Nestlé Professional, which includes Coconut Milk Powder, Rich & Rustic Tomato Sauce, Original Vegetarian Gravy, Béchamel Sauce and Crème Brûlée Mix.
This year's judges are Justin Clarke, MAGGI at Nestlé Professional food development chef; Jacqui Webb from LACA; Jasmine Challis from the British Dietetic Association, and a Year 6 boy and girl from a local regional school. LACA School Chef of the Year 2013, Corinne Du Preez from Berkshire, will appear as a judge at the national final.
Now in its second decade, the LACA School Chef of the Year competition aims to reward chefs in each of the LACA regions who are contributing to the health and wellbeing of schoolchildren.
LACA represents 750 catering managers in local authorities, contractors, academies and individual schools across the UK.