Oliver Smith, a chef for Hadrian Healthcare Group at Wetherby Manor, has been named the best care cook in the UK.
Smith clinched victory in the final of the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Cook of the Year 2015 competition, held this morning at Barking & Dagenham College's Technical Skills Academy.
He saw off stiff competition with his two-course menu of pork tenderloin, celeriac puree, crispy potatoes and apple, followed by chocolate mousse with beetroot.
Matthew Dodge, from the South East region, clinched second place as well as the highly commended award for his main course of grey mullet with fondant potato, butternut veloute and stuffed leek, while Samantha Smallwood, from the Midlands heat, came third. Paul Burch, also from the Midlands, took home the high commended award for his dessert of apple crumble with blackberries and custard.
Now in its 16th year, the NACC Care Cook of the Year competition rewards excellence in care catering.
All entrants were required to create a nutritionally-balanced, innovative and delicious two-course menu, main and dessert, that is suitable for customers in a care environment. Other criteria included a set budget of £1.50 per person (based on four portions), and the meal must be produced in 90 minutes.
Innovation, costing, suitability for the environment, adherence to nutritional guidelines, taste and overall menu balance were the key attributes being looked for by the judges.
Neel Radia, national chair of the NACC, offered his congratulations to Smith and praised all the 11 finalists for creating fierce competition. He added: "Catering for care environments requires specific skills, knowledge and commitment 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. On top of this, they must also possess the culinary ability and creativity to consistently create great-tasting and attractive food that keeps service users excited.
"It's clear from every stage of the competition that these vital skills are present in abundance in care settings across the UK."