NACC Care Chef of the Year 2019 competition opens for entries

The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has begun its annual search for the nation’s best care chef. The NACC Care Chef of the Year 2019 competition is now officially open for entries.

The prestigious culinary competition is open to all chefs and cooks working in the care sector, from care homes, day centres, lunch clubs and meals on wheels services to local authorities and other care organisations, including hospices.

The entry brochure can be downloaded at https://www.thenacc.co.uk/events/nacc-care-chef-of-the-year-2019 and the deadline for entries is 1 February 2019.

Now in its twentieth year, the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition, which is proudly supported by the main sponsor Premier Foods and the Worshipful Company of Cooks, recognises the excellence of chefs working in the care sector.

The competition is specially designed to showcase the talent, innovation, specialist skills and specific knowledge of nutrition and dietary requirements required by care chefs, whilst challenging them and encouraging them to push the boundaries. It also raises the profile of the care sector as a rewarding, dynamic career choice.

Entrants must create new, exciting menus, following the competition rules, that adhere to a strict budget and meet the nutritional and dietary needs of their clientele.

As people age their dietary needs change and a wide variety of special diets must be recognised and catered for safely. From food intolerances to dysphagia and dementia, it is vital that care chefs can confidently deliver the right nutrition and hydration to ensure quality of life and prevent unnecessary malnutrition-related illnesses. They also need creativity and flair, as older people often experience a reduced appetite or decreased sense of taste, which can also undermine their intake of essential nutrients. It’s therefore vital that the food presented to them is attractive to the eye and full of flavour.

Neel Radia, national chair of the NACC, said, “We’re thrilled to launch NACC Care Chef of the Year 2019. The competition has a strong reputation for showcasing the culinary excellence that the care sector exudes, so we’re very excited to see what this year’s talented entrants produce in their mission to join the exclusive club of NACC Care Chef of the Year title holders.

“This competition is a valuable and important platform for raising the profile of care catering and the fantastic opportunities the sector offers, which is very important in the current climate of uncertainty where we are all facing recruitment challenges. It also helps motivate and develop chefs, which is beneficial to all – from the chef and their place of work to, crucially, the people they are feeding and their loved ones. The standard of meals produced by competing chefs is incredible; in flavour, texture and appearance. In the care sector, food can enhance the quality of someone’s life and this understanding is at the heart of what the competing chefs, and care chefs across the country, are producing daily.

“I urge all care chefs to enter the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition and reap the many benefits it offers. I look forward to watching this exciting competition unfold.”

The NACC Care Chef of the Year competition challenges 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 should be no more than £2.25 per head based on three portions and it must be nutritionally balanced. The menu must also incorporate one of the Premier Foods products listed in the competition entry brochure.

Participating chefs will have just 90 minutes to produce their dishes and the judges will be looking for clear nutritional understanding of the foods they are using and how they benefit their clientele, plus culinary flair through flavours, menu balance, execution and presentation.

All paper entries will be judged by a central judging panel and the successful entrants will be invited to compete at the regional heats in March 2019*, where they will have 90 minutes to produce their dishes and demonstrate their skill set under the watchful eye of the competition judges, when their working practices will also be under scrutiny.

The two highest-scoring competitors from each regional heat will secure a place in the national final on Wednesday 5 June 2019 at Stratford-upon-Avon College. Here they will compete for the coveted title NACC Care Chef of the Year 2019.