The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has revealed the names of the 12 finalists who will compete for the title of NACC Care Cook of the Year 2016.
Chefs secured their place in the final after battling it out in regional heats, where they demonstrated their knowledge and talent for catering within the care sector.
The two highest-scoring competitors from each region will now compete in the grand final on 8 June at Barking & Dagenham College's Technical Skills Academy.
Neel Radia, national chair, NACC, said: "Catering within the care sector requires specialised and crucial knowledge and skills. Catering for the elderly and vulnerable comes with specific challenges, including the risk of malnutrition and the impact of reduced appetites and eating difficulties caused by conditions such as dementia and dysphagia.
"Care caterers across the UK do an incredible job in overcoming these challenges, creating exciting and appealing meals to ensure the nutritional wellbeing of those entrusted to their care. The NACC Care Cook of the Year competition gives us a fantastic platform to celebrate and champion the talented and dedicated chefs in our sector. I congratulate all of our finalists. The regional heats were exhilarating and have set the bar for what is sure to be a phenomenal national final. I wish everyone the very best of luck."
Finalists will have 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 £1.50 per head based on four portions, reflecting the restricted budgets care cooks are often faced with.
Judges will be looking for innovation, costing, suitability for the environment, adherence to nutrition guidelines, taste and overall menu balance.
The panel of judges at the National Final include: Simon Fooks, Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Cooks; Lynden Davies, chef/assessor and professional catering lecturer, Barking & Dagenham College; Caroline Lecko, patient safety lead, NHS England; Katey Pigden, reporter, The Caterer; Andrew Archer, managing director, Dewberry Redpoint and Louise Wagstaff, senior culinary advisor, Premier Foods.
The 2016 NACC Care Cook of the Year National finalists are:
Stuart Middleton - Meallmore Lodge, Daviot, Inverness
Northern Region: Ryan Blake - Sunrise of Mobberley, Knutsford
Julian Gabrielli - Sunrise of Hale Barns, Altrincham
Midlands Region: Martin McKee - The Hawthorns, Aldridge
Peter McGregor - Perry Manor Care Home, Worcester
Welsh Region: Kevin Beebe - Y Plas Care Home, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire
Simon Harris - Claremont Court Nursing Home, Newport
South West Region: Anthony Proffitt - Kimberley Court Care Home, Newquay
Christopher McDonald - The Check House Nursing Home, Seaton
South East Region: Alan Cash - Mildenhall Lodge, Mildenhall, Suffolk
Alex Morte - Coombe Hill Manor, Kingston-upon-Thames