The 10 finalists that will compete in the School Chef of the Year 2016 national final next month have been announced.
Chefs in the competition, organised by LACA (the Lead Association for Catering in Education), will have 90 minutes to produce a healthy, balanced main course and dessert that would appeal to 11-year-olds, for a maximum cost of £1.60 per portion.
A total of 33 school chefs from all 10 of the LACA regions took part in the regional heats.
Submitted dishes included meat loaf served with ribboned cucumber, garden mint yogurt, crusted sweet potato, Buntingford honey flowerpot bread and tomato relish and chicken with plantain mash and steamed greens. Desserts ranged from spiced pineapple cake with lime custard to Dracula's bat-tastic baked lemon cheesecake.
The annual competition has been organised by LACA for more than two decades and is sponsored by Maggi from Nestlé Professional.
Peter McGrath, LACA national chair, said: "LACA School Chef of the Year is a fantastic way of showing why every school should be striving for a high quality school meals service. When the government brought in Universal Infant Free School Meals in England in September 2014, it was, at last, a real acknowledgement of the pivotal role school meals can play in laying the foundations for children's future eating habits and their long term health.
"All of the contestants who have taken part this year should be inspirational role models for the food and beverage service in every school nationwide. Good luck to all of our 2016 National Finalists".
The judging panel for the national final will be made up of Justin Clarke, food development chef, Maggi at Nestlé Professional; Christopher Basten, chairman, Craft Guild of Chefs; Jacqui Webb, LACA; Jasmine Challis, British Dietetic Association; Kate Davies, the 2015 LACA School Chef of the Year; and an 11-year-old boy and girl from a local West Midlands school.
The national final will be held at Stratford upon Avon College on 10 March 2016.
The 2016 national finalists are:
East Midlands School Chef of the Year 2016 Susan Terris, the William Allitt School, Newhall, Nr Swadlincote (Derbyshire CC)
East of England School Chef of the Year 2016 Annette Graham, Roger de Clare Primary School, Puckeridge (Hertfordshire Catering Ltd)
London School Chef of the Year 2016 Shereene Weston, John Ball Primary School, Blackheath, SE London (Chartwells)
North East & Scotland School Chef of the Year 2016 Abdul Mahdoul, Walbottle Campus, Newcastle upon Tyne (Newcastle CC)
North West School Chef of the Year 2016 Sharon Hornby, St Chad's Primary School, Poulton-le-Fylde (Lancashire CC Catering)
South East School Chef of the Year 2016 Marion Jane, Goldstone Primary School, Hove, East Sussex (Eden Foodservice)
South West School Chef of the Year 2016 Sharon Cundell, St Edwards C of E Primary School, Plymouth (Plymouth CC)
Welsh School Chef of the Year 2016 Tracey Gibby, Porth Juniors, Porth (Rhondda Cynon Taff Catering Services)
West Midlands School Chef of the Year 2016 Jose Davies Kochakkadan, Marston Green Infants Academy, Birmingham (Solihull Catering Services)
Yorks & Humber School Chef of the Year 2016 Katherine Breckon, Westcliff Primary School, Whitby (N Yorkshire CC)