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Tony Mulgrew's approach to changing the food culture at Ravenscliffe High School and Sports College in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and other schools further afield, as well as running an efficient service using local and organic produce, make him stand out as a worthy winner of the Chef Manager of the Year award.
Mulgrew has been heralded for his willingness to spend his own time sourcing products locally, ensuring his kitchen's food is a celebration of the nearby area, while keeping the school's carbon footprint to a minimum. He operates a healthy balance sheet, while at the same time always focusing on top-quality, affordable food for the school and students alike - an approach that stood him in good stead with the Foodservice Catey judges.
Mulgrew has also been instrumental in blurring the lines between the worlds of cuisine and education. He has taken on former students of a nearby special educational needs school and trained them up into skilled members of staff, helping them reach personal goals and experience the sense of achievement that comes with working as a team to create top-notch food.
In addition, he has provided cookery classes for parents, empowering families to provide food that is both delicious and nutritious outside of the school grounds and stripping away skills barriers to show how to provide a balanced, healthy diet for students.
And it is not just in his own school that Mulgrew is having an impact. He is involved in the Food for Life National Cooks Network, which involves liaising with head teachers and senior management team at schools all over the country, as well as travelling further afield to Japan and Sweden to share his extensive knowledge with his overseas colleagues. Mulgrew has also supported two other schools in setting up a self-managed catering service.
If this was not enough, Mulgrew's submission to the awards stands as testament to the relationship he has been able to foster with those around him. His nomination was submitted secretly by a leading school catering expert, who wanted to share Mulgrew's achievements and skills. He is clearly a well-liked chef manager who holds the wide respect of his colleagues and peers.
What the judges said
"Tony is all that a good chef manager should be. Provenance-led, giving back and supportive in all he undertakes, well-respected and valued. He is a very worthy winner of this award."
Nick Vadis, culinary director, Compass Group UK & Ireland
"Tony stands alone without a large company to support him. He goes above and beyond his job and sources products locally in his spare time and has a keen eye for quality rather than costs. As a school chef he faces daily challenges, but he masters them easily and cost effectively."
Hanke Fischer, chef manager, Harbour & Jones
"Tony is the epitome of the classic chef manager leading from the front; his influence has seen his name mentioned in international circles with links to Japan and Sweden, sharing best practice with other school chefs."
Hayden Groves, executive chef, BaxterStorey
Adrian Kirikmaa St Monica Trust
Chris Howard-Kraft Blue Apple Contract Catering
Chris McKinley BaxterStorey
Tony Mulgrew Ravenscliffe High School and Sports College, Halifax, West Yorkshire
2017 Hanke Fischer H+J
2016 Henry Maasdorp Blue Apple
2015 Nigel Simmonds Connect Catering
2014 Steve Deacon Sodexo
2013 Fred Ockwell Brookwood Partnership
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