Solihull Catering Services' Louise Witterick named School Chef of the Year

Solihull Catering Services' Louise Witterick named School Chef of the Year

Louise Witterick has been named School Chef of the Year 2011.

Witterick, a West Midlands finalist, is a catering manager for Solihull Catering Services. She was voted Britain's top school chef by a panel of judges at the national final held at University College Birmingham last week.

Her winning entry was a main course of beef stifado with a trio of root vegetables and minted spinach and broccoli, followed by a dessert of spicy butternut squash tart served with hot crème anglaise.

On taking the title, Witterick said: "I have always been passionate about a healthy diet for children and I have always felt that this has been demonstrated in my work and the meals I serve. I feel very fortunate in the job I do.

"With the standard in the competition being so exceptionally high, I felt it was an achievement in itself to compete with such a talented group of people. All of this just goes to prove what a good job school chefs do, day in, day out, up and down the country to provide tasty, nutritious meals for millions of children".

Anu Rajput from St John's Primary School in Chorlton, Manchester won the highly commended main course award for her dish of chicken shashlick with chickpea salad, while the winner of the highly commended dessert prize was Annette Newman from Roger De Clare C of E Nursery School in Puckeridge, Hertfordshire. She served a "runaway tart", which consisted of a pastry case with chocolate and butternut squash filling served with yogurt and strawberry coulis.

The marketing certificate of merit went to Mohamed Sabra from St Bartholomew's Primary School in Sydenham, south-east London. This award, launched for the first time last year, acknowledges the creativity of the display tables produced by the finalists as a backdrop to their dishes.

The competition is organised annually by the Local Authority Caterers Association (LACA) and is sponsored by Maggi from Nestlé Professional.

Neil Stephens, managing director, Nestlé Professional, said: "The School Chef of the Year competition is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the skill, dedication and passion of those people who provide schoolchildren with great tasting and nutritious meals, in an ever increasing environment of tight cost control and increasing legislation.

"In this year's Competition we have seen, right across the country, a level of creativity, inspiration and skill that is a credit to everyone that entered."

Entrants to the annual competition are tasked with producing a nutritionally balanced two-course meal at a maximum cost of £1.35 per head, in one-and-a-half hours.

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By Janie Stamford

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