The Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA) has revealed the names of the 10 finalists in the LACA School Chef of the Year 2017 competition.
The competition, which allows school chefs to showcase their professional skills, has been organised annually for over two decades by LACA.
The 2017 national final which will be held at Stratford upon Avon College, Alcester Road, Warwickshire. This year, more male school chefs have taken part than ever before, resulting in a 50:50 male:female line-up for this year's national final.
At all stages of the competition, each contestant has a maximum of £1.30 to spend and just one and a half hours to prepare their dishes. They are required to produce a healthy balanced two-course meal comprising a main course and dessert that would appeal to eleven year olds in school. The meals of all competitors must comply with the School Food Standards and take into account the Eat Well Guide 2016. The Judges also want to see evidence of use of locally sourced ingredients and the use of sustainable products.
The finalists are:
London School Chef of the Year 2017
Terri Carpenter, Torriano Infants School, Camden, North West London (Caterlink/LB of Camden)
North East & Scotland School Chef of the Year 2017
Mary Barraclough, Abbey Hill Academy & Sixth Form College, Stockton on Tees (Stockton BC)
North West School Chef of the Year 2017
Sue Knight, St Johns CE Primary School, Dukinfield, Tameside, Gtr Manchester (Carillion/Tameside MBC)
South East School Chef of the Year 2017
Barry Brewington, Medway UTC, Chatham, Kent (Folkestone Academy/Kent CC)
South West School Chef of the Year 2017
Steve Fowell, Mendip Green Primary School, Weston super Mare (Mendip Green First School/N Somerset Council)
Welsh School Chef of the Year 2017
Jonathan Balfour, Ysgol Bro Brynach, Llanboidy, Whitland, Carmarthenshire (Carmarthenshire CC)
West Midlands School Chef of the Year 2017
Jose Davies Kochakkadan, Marston Green Infants Academy, Birmingham (Solihull Catering Services)
Yorks & Humber School Chef of the Year 2017
Tracy Healy, Ravensthorpe Junior School, Dewsbury, W Yorkshire (Kirklees Council)
In addition to the national title, the winner will receive a £1000 cash prize, the LACA 2017 School Chef of the Year trophy, a commemorative plaque, a work experience trip and an invitation to a calendar of high profile catering industry engagements between 2017-2018. The national Highly Commended Main Course and Dessert winners will also receive a cash prize of £500 each and commemorative plaques.
Chair of the 2017 national final judging panel is Justin Clarke, food development chef for Maggi at Nestlé Professional. Also on the national final judging panel will be a professional chef judge (Christopher Basten, past chair, Craft Guild of Chefs), an education catering professional (Jacqui Webb, LACA), a nutritionist (Beth Hooper, nutrition manager, Nestlé Professional), the 2016 LACA School Chef of the Year, Katherine Breckon from North Yorkshire, and an 11-year-old boy and girl from a Stratford upon Avon school.
Sally Shadrack, 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. School meals play a pivotal role in laying the foundations for children's future eating habits and their long term health. Not only do our front line chefs prepare tasty and imaginative dishes to tempt discerning taste buds but also nutritious meals that can make a major contribution towards altering eating habits, improving diets and decreasing obesity levels. Following a balanced diet and eating well can help our children achieve more both academically and physically. 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 2017 National Finalists."
Video from The Caterer archives