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Chef of the Year Award: Kath Breckon - NYES Catering (North Yorkshire Council)

9th Apr 2024 - 11:12

Kath started her culinary journey at Scarborough Technical College, and then worked in various hotels before starting a family. It was at this time she took the helm at Westcliff School in 2008 and quickly developed the role by cooking with the students and bringing in local well-known chefs to inspire the children, some of whom have since taken up a career in catering.

In 2016, she won the LACA School Chef of the Year competition and made the role her own, using the opportunity to widen her cooking knowledge and enthuse others.

In the same year she also won the title of Primary School Caterer of the Year, going on to host the awards evening the following year. She was promoted to area supervisor helping to train new school chefs and in 2019 became development chef, allowing her to add flair and passion for food in menus, recipes, allergen management and special diets.

Her responsibilities today have grown to include the creation of nutritionally balanced, locally sourced, sustainable menus, budgeting, overseeing compliance with Food for Life, special diets, promoting the meal service within North Yorkshire and surrounding areas, presenting at tender bids, and training.

To meet rising food costs she has redeveloped menus, cutting the number of recipes, which has had the effect of reducing the average daily meal price for core menus by 7p compared with 2023. On nearly 4.8m meals served, that is a saving of more than £335,000 in a year.

At the same time she used the opportunity to reduce allergens, increase taste, add food waste reduction tips and recipe tips.

Not stopping there, she has also updated the secondary school offer drastically, bringing in new initiatives and recipes to compete with the High Street. This has seen the numbers staying on site increase by an average of 11.2%.

Kath’s passion for the sector goes above and beyond her role, joining the LACA Yorkshire & Humberside Region and taking on the role of treasurer.

She has also been invited to be part of the Knorr Professional – ‘Best in the Business Campaign’, becoming the Ambassador For Education.

Kath was recently presented with the LACA Yorkshire & Humberside Region’s ‘Outstanding Contribution to Education Catering Award’ and has also just picked up the APPG Excellence in School Food Award – Individual, which was presented to her by Sharon Hodgson MP.

Andrew Rogerson, national account executive at Essential Cuisine, said: “Her wealth of catering experience allows her to think outside the box and to be innovative when planning inspirational; healthy, nutritious, and great tasting dishes.

“Kath works with key suppliers to ensure the children are offered exciting food options with minimal allergens, delivered to high standards, whilst working in a sustainable manner. It is clear Kath is a great contributor to the schools and her involvement in LACA.”

PSC Alliance