The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has revealed the names of the finalists in its Care Cook of the Year 2015 competition.
The finalists were named after regional heats that challenged the chefs to produce a delicious and nutritionally-balanced two-course menu, main and dessert, created specifically for the competition in just 90 minutes.
The menu had to be suitable for service users in a care setting and have the combined food cost for both courses of no more than £1.50 per head based on four portions.
The finalists who made it through the heats were:
Scottish Region: • Paul Burton, Parklands Care Home, Meallmore Ltd, Alloa, Clackmannanshire
• Margaret Stewart, Methilhaven Care Home, Fife Council
Northern Region: • Matt Gomersall, Donisthorpe Hall, Leeds
• Oliver Smith, Wetherby Manor, Wetherby
Midlands Region: • Paul Burch, Dukes Court Care Home, Wellingborough
• Samantha Smallwood, Sunrise Senior Living of Edgbaston
Welsh Region: • Gareth O'Hara, Sunrise Senior Living of Cardiff
South West Region: • Gary Ford, St Monica Trust, Bristol
• William Marsh, Brandon Care Ltd, Exmouth
South East Region: • Becky Allcorn, Hanover Housing Rotary Lodge, Worthing
• Matthew Dodge, Coombe Hill Manor, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey
They will now go on to compete in a cook-off on Wednesday 10 June at Barking & Dagenham College's Technical Skills Academy to see who will take the title.
Neel Radia, national chair, NACC, said: "Catering within the care sector requires specific skills and knowledge to ensure that the dietary and nutritional needs of the elderly and vulnerable are met. Important factors such as nutrition, budget restrictions, specific dietary requirements and needs, such as dementia, dysphagia and fortification, menu planning and regulations must be understood. They must also possess the culinary ability and flair to consistently create great-tasting and attractive food.
"The NACC Care Cook of the Year competition enables care cooks and chefs to showcase this knowledge and talent that the sector holds in abundance, whilst also raising the profile of this incredible and valuable sector of the industry. I congratulate all of this year's finalists for their fantastic achievement so far in the competition. They are fine examples of best practice and excellence and I wish them all the very best for their preparations for the final. I very much look forward to what is sure to be a thrilling day."
Judges at the final will include: Bev Puxley, past master, Worshipful Company of Cooks; Lynden Davies, chef/assessor and professional catering lecturer, Barking & Dagenham College; Caroline Lecko, patient safety lead, NHS England; Janie Manzoori-Stamford, foodservice editor, The Caterer; and Andrew Archer, managing director, Dewberry Redpoint.