The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has crowned its 2018 Care Chef of the Year after a nail-biting live final on 6th June which – to make things even tougher for the contestants – was interrupted by a fire alarm…
John Grover of Auchtercrag House Care Home in Aberdeenshire kept his cool and came out a worthy winner on the day, when judging was resumed following the evacuation of Barking and Dagenham Technical Skills Academy just as the finalists were bringing out their completed dishes.
Representing the NACC’s Scotland Region, John not only impressed the judges with his menu of Lamb with black pudding & herbs and Chocolate & raspberry fondant cheesecake with caramel port cream, but also with his knowledge and understanding of the nutritional needs of care home residents.
Martin McKee of The Hawthorns, Aldridge came second with his Tender blade of Staffordshire beef, broad bean mash, braised red cabbage & honey glazed Shropshire carrot purée with poached asparagus & Yorkshire pudding, and Buckinghamshire cherry & Belgian chocolate bakewell mousse with almond joconde; and Brian Gollan from Ivybank Care Home, Falkirk was judged third with his Ballotine of rabbit, confit potato, smooth celeriac purée, carrot purée and jus roti, and Steamed marmalade pudding with clotted cream ice cream.
Brian was also awarded Highly Commended Main, while David Oswin of Loxley Park won Highly Commended Dessert for his Raspberry jelly, sweet cheese & basil, custard mousse & honeycomb.
John, who caters for a large number of residents who are living with dementia, explained that his menu was designed to evoke memories of familiar and favourite foods. On winning, he said: “I’m absolutely elated to have won. This is the fourth year I’ve entered the competition and my second time in the final. It’s been a long time coming.
“This year’s menu has been a year in the planning. I took on board the judges’ comments from previous years, practised in a different kitchen, and got my residents and various people in and out of the industry to try my dishes and give feedback. Planning and practice was definitely the key.”
Neel Radia, the NACC’s National Chair, said: “Congratulations to John Grover. Winning the NACC Care Chef of the Year 2018 title is an awesome achievement. It was an exciting and closely-fought final, so John should be incredibly proud of himself, as should all of the finalists.
“The NACC works hard to raise the profile of care chefs and the specific culinary skills, knowledge and flair this field of catering requires. Yesterday, the finalists brought our clear message to life. They demonstrated how talented care chefs are and wowed the judges and spectators with the incredible dishes they created. This fantastic competition helps us ensure that care chefs up and down the country receive the recognition and respect they deserve for the challenging and rewarding work they do. Every day, care chefs improve the lives of the vulnerable and elderly in care settings, through delicious, stimulating and appropriate food experiences.”
Sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Cooks and Premier Foods, the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition requires entrants 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 than £2.25 per head based on three portions and it is to be produced in just 90 minutes.