The LACA School Chef of the Year 2015 competition is set to move into the live regional heats, following the completion of its first judging.
More than 60 entries from education catering chefs across the country were received for this year's contest, with successful applicants being put through to take part in one of the 10 live regional heats to be held between January and March next year.
Chefs in the running have one and half hours to produce a healthy, balanced main course and dessert that would appeal to 11-year-olds, for the maximum cost of £1.60 per two-course serving.
The only other stipulation is that chefs must incorporate at least two products from sponsor Maggi at Nestlé Professional, which are intended to help chefs tailor food to the ethnic and cultural mix of many schools. They must also feature any Nestlé product in the dessert.
The competition is the flagship event for school chefs to showcase their professional skills, while its overall aim is to demonstrate to parents the high quality of school meals today and the important contribution they make to their children's health and wellbeing, as well as their physical and educational attainment.
The judging panels will be made up of Maggi at Nestlé Professional food development chef Justin Clarke; a professional local chef; education catering professional Jacqui Webb, from LACA; dietician Jasmine Challis from the British Dietetic Association; and a Year 6 boy and girl from a local school. Tanya Watkin, the LACA School Chef of the Year 2014, will join the panel as a judge at the final.
LACA chair Carrieanne Bishop commented: "This has been a monumental and historic year for school meals. The government has set out a clear vision, which places quality at the heart of successful school meals. Also, its introduction of Universal Free School Meals is, 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.
"The LACA School Chef of the Year competition allows us the opportunity to demonstrate both the professional skills of today's school chefs and the excellent meals they prepare every single day in schools across the land."