2018 NACC Care Chef of the Year winner revealed

John Grover of Auchtercrag House Care Home, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, was crowned 2018 NACC Care Chef of the Year, yesterday (Wednesday 6 June), following a thrilling national final.

The prestigious National Chef of the Year culinary competition, organised by the National Association of Care Catering (NACC), seeks out the UK’s best chef working in the care sector.

Barking & Dagenham College’s Technical Skills Academy hosted the final, where 12 chefs from across the country showcased their talents under the expert scrutiny of the panel of judges. They all demonstrated exceptional culinary skills, creativity and knowledge in the specialist field of care catering.

The standards of all the finalists were incredibly high, which made for an exciting contest, however, John stood out to claim first place and the coveted title thanks to his excellent menu of Lamb with black pudding and herbs followed by Chocolate and raspberry fondant cheesecake with caramel port cream.

The judges were impressed with John’s well-presented, unique dishes that showed inventive use of classic ingredients, featured varied textures and, of course, tasted great. They also highlighted his excellent use of inexpensive produce. From a nutritional perspective, his knowledge and understanding of the needs of care home residents was praised.

Grover said on winning, “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.”

Martin McKee of The Hawthorns, Aldridge, took second place, with Brian Gollan of Ivybank House Care Home, Polmont, Falkirk, taking third place.

Brian Gollan was also awarded Highly Commended Main and David Oswin of Loxley Park, Sheffield, took the certificate for Highly Commended Dessert.

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 is designed to continually challenge care chefs and celebrate their excellent talent, skills and professionalism. It also raises the profile of care catering as a rewarding, dynamic career choice.

The 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.