The winner takes all

A Cheshire care home chef was crowned the winner of Sanctuary Care’s recent Masterchef-style competition

Sanctuary Care, a not-for-profit provider that has delivered residential, dementia, respite, and nursing care throughout England and Scotland for over 25 years, has recently crowned  a care home chef from Cheshire as the winner of its MasterChef-style competition.

Sarah Ashton, Chef Manager at High Peak Residential and Nursing Home in Warrington, emerged victorious amongst 13 finalists in the annual competition, which follows a similar format to the popular BBC series. Commenting on her win, Ashton said: Sarah Ashton says: “The competition was fierce, so I am feeling very proud to have won! As a care home chef, it means a lot to have my culinary skills recognised. I’ve always loved cooking but working in a care home kitchen is a completely different experience, which brings with it unique challenges and a whole new level of satisfaction.

“Preparing menus which cater to our residents’ wide range of preferences and dietary requirements requires a certain level of creativity, but knowing how much they look forward to mealtimes is incredibly fulfilling – particularly when they share positive feedback. It really was an honour to take part in the competition and I’m already planning for next year!”.

The competition, which saw chefs from over 100 Sanctuary Care homes in England and Scotland, battled it out to produce a two-course menu in under 90 minutes and a panel of judges, which included Unilever’s Executive Chef for UK and Ireland, Alex Hall and Sanctuary Care’s Director of Operations, Sheila O’Connor, assessed the dishes for taste, culinary flair, creativity, and presentation.

The care home provider received 15 submissions from its talented chefs, with the best contestants battling it out head-to-head in a lively cook off at the Unilever Chefmanship Centre in Surrey.

Inspired by her childrens’ favourite cuisine, winner Ashton prepared a delectable chicken katsu curry with coconut rice as her main course. This was followed by one of the Cheshire care home’s most popular desserts, a rhubarb crumble cheesecake. As well as being named MasterChef champion, Ashtonalso received a cash prize of £1,000.

Judge and Sanctuary Care’s Director of Operations, Sheila O’Connor, comments: Sarah is an outstanding chef and deserving winner of our MasterChef competition. “We introduced the contest 13 years ago to honour the amazing chefs who produce delicious food to enrich the lives of residents living within our care homes every day, and each year, the competition gets more exciting.

“Mealtimes play a really important role in our homes and have always been a focus for residents, which is why we are proud to invest in fantastic chefs who go above and beyond to create enjoyable dining experiences for our residents and it was great to see them demonstrating their culinary flair during the competition. The judges were blown away by the creative menus and delicious food produced and aaall of the chefs should feel incredibly proud.”

Following Ashton in the MasterChef competition was runner up, Rowena Graham, Chef Manager at Camilla House Care Home in Edinburgh, with third place awarded to former champion, Ruaan Prins, Chef Manager at Heathlands Residential Care Home in Worcestershire.

The results of the competition, which is run in partnership with Unilever Food Solutions, were announced at Sanctuary Care’s annual Chef Conference on Thursday 21 September.

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