Stuart Middleton of Meallmore Lodge Care Home, Inverness, has been named National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Chef of the Year 2017.
At the final at Barking & Dagenham College's Technical Skills Academy yesterday (7 June), the 11 finalists from across the NACC's six regions demonstrated their culinary skills, creativity and knowledge in this specialist field of catering.
Sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Cooks and Premier Foods, the competition spotlights the care catering sector and the talented chefs operating within it.
Entrants are challenged to create a nutritionally-balanced, two-course menu (main and dessert) that is suitable for service users in a care setting. The combined food cost for both courses must be no more that £2.25 per head based on four portions and must be produced in 90 minutes.
Middleton's winning menu featured a main of ‘haggis, neeps and tatties', followed by a dessert of Culloden cranachan.
The judges praised Stuart for an excellent menu and approach that delivered on taste, skill and presentation and showed clear understanding of his clientele. They were impressed by the authenticity of his dishes, his innovative interpretation of classics, the use of regional ingredients, his attention to detail, and the passion he shows through working with residents to create his menus.
Peter McGregor of Perry Manor, Worcester, took second place, with Martin McKee of the Hawthorns Aldridge taking third. Middleton was also awarded highly commended main and McKee took highly commended dessert.
Middleton said: "I'm overwhelmed to have won. I didn't expect it as the calibre of the other finalists was unbelievable. I competed last year but I was nervous and didn't know what to expect, so I over-complicated everything. This year I simplified it. I engaged with my residents to create a menu they love and that's Scottish through and through."
Neel Radia, the NACC's national chair, said: "Care chefs have to be highly skilled and knowledgeable to cater for the elderly and vulnerable. In this very specific area of catering, as well as ensuring meals are nutritionally balanced and beneficial, they must think about catering for individual physical and emotional needs such as special diets, cultural requirements, social preferences, reduced appetites and eating difficulties caused by conditions such as dementia and dysphagia. Care chefs do an incredible job creating a variety of impressive dishes that are delicious and visually appealing, and wouldn't look out of place in a top restaurant."
Videos from The Caterer archives