The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has launched its 2017 search for the UK's best chef working in the care sector.
The name of the competition has been changed from NACC Care Cook of the Year to NACC Care Chef of the Year, in recognition of the specialist skills and knowledge required by chefs working in a care environment.
Chefs from across the sector, from those working in residential care homes and local authorities to community services such as meals on wheels, day centres and luncheon clubs are being encouraged to enter.
Entrants have been asked to create a nutritionally-balanced two-course menu within 90 minutes, comprising main and dessert and suitable for service users in a care setting.
The combined food cost for both courses must be no more than £2.25 per head based on four portions, reflecting the restricted budgets care chefs are often faced with.
All entries will be judged by a central panel for consistency and those shortlisted will have the opportunity to show off their culinary skills and knowledge at one of the six regional cook-offs.
The two highest-scoring competitors from each regional heat will go on to cook in the grand final on 7 June 2017 at Barking & Dagenham Technical Skills Academy.
Neel Radia, national chair of the NACC, said: "Care catering is a highly skilled profession and it's only right that our culinary competition reflects this, both in content and name.
"Catering for the vulnerable and elderly is challenging and demands specialist skills, knowledge and responsibility. As people age their dietary needs change and a wide variety of special diets must be recognised and catered for safely. It's vital that care chefs confidently deliver the right nutrition and hydration, together with exceptional flavours and eye-catching presentation, to ensure the enjoyment and quality of life of those they feed.
"Up and down the country, care chefs are doing this daily and the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition is a fantastic platform for them to demonstrate their culinary flair and talent, and to showcase excellence across the sector."
He added: "Year on year the standard of entries grows and I've no doubt that 2017 will bring another incredibly impressive and inspiring competition. I urge all chefs working in a care environment to enter and seize the brilliant opportunities for development that the competition presents."
The deadline for entries is 3 February 2017. Visit www.thenacc.co.uk/events/care_chef_year for more information and to download an entry form.
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