Tracy Healy, catering supervisor at Ravensthorpe Junior School in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, has scooped the title of LACA School Chef of the Year 2017.
She was awarded the title at the national final yesterday (2 March) at Stratford-upon-Avon College, Warwickshire. The competition is organised annually by LACA (Lead Association for CAtering in Education) and is sponsored by Maggi Professional from Nestlé Professional.
Healy's winning dishes were a main course of lamb kofta with coconut rice served with flatbread and mint salad, and a rhubarb fool with ginger crunch dessert.
In her job, Healy caters for 280 pupils between 7-11 years. She has been a supervisor at Ravensthorpe for the past six years, where she plans and develops menus, and whenever possible use produce grown by the children in the school gardening club. The school also runs a breakfast club adjacent to the school kitchen where the children can witness the preparation of their school meals and talk to Healy and her team about food.
Each contestant in the competition had £1.30 to spend and one and a half hours to prepare their dishes. The chefs were required to produce a healthy, balanced two-course meal comprising a main course and dessert that would appeal to 11-year-olds. The meals must comply with the School Food Standards and take into account the Eat Well Guide 2016. Judges also wanted to see use of locally-sourced ingredients and sustainable products.
The winner of the highly commended main course prize was Michael Goulston from Peartree Spring Primary School, Hertfordshire, for his dish of Hertfordshire chicken and ham pot pie. Highly commended dessert went to Jose Davies Kochakkadan from Marston Green Infant Academy, Birmingham, for his dish of mango frangipane with mango lassi and salsa.
Chair of the judging panel was Justin Clarke, business development chef for Maggi at Nestlé Professional, overseeing judges Christopher Basten, past chair of the Craft Guild of Chefs; Jacqui Webb from LACA; Beth Hooper, nutrition manager at Nestlé Professional; LACA School Chef of the Year 2016 Katherine Breckon; and two pupils from a Stratford-upon-Avon school.
Sally Shadrack, LACA national chair, said: "My congratulations go to Tracy Healy. Her success in taking the national title is a major achievement given the exceptionally high standard of culinary skills of all of this year's finalists. All of the contestants who have taken part this year should be inspirational role models for the food and beverage service in every school nationwide".
Healy said: "I am so proud to have won the national title. With the skill amongst this year's finalists being so 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."
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