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Aaron Watson wins 2021 NACC Care Chef of the Year

8th Oct 2021 - 07:00
The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has announced Aaron Watson of Primrose Bank Care Home as the NACC Care Chef of the Year winner.

He was awarded the coveted title in front of NACC members and delegates during the official opening of the NACC Training & Development Forum at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham.

In just 90 minutes the NACC finalists showcased their culinary skills, creativity and knowledge under the watchful eye of the expert judges.

Watson cooked a menu of honey & ginger glazed pork fillet served with garlic and chilli pak choi, potato croquette, carrot purée and fresh apple followed by a dessert of sweet chilli roasted pineapple with coconut ice cream and spiced rum caramel sauce.

He said: “I’m really happy to have won. I’m also a little surprised – I thought the final went well for me, but the other chefs were so good I didn’t dare imagine winning!

“It was fantastic to see what the other finalists were doing and to learn from their expertise too. I’m just very pleased to be creating food that puts smiles on people’s faces.”

The judges were looking for clear nutritional understanding of the foods being used and how they support the needs of their clientele, plus culinary flair through flavours, menu balance, execution, presentation and hygiene best practice.

The judges unanimously agreed that Watson was the worthy winner, praising his “innovative, resident- and person-centred menu that expertly brought together delicious Asian flavours in a modern, exciting way, whilst showing a sound understanding of nutritional requirements.”

Matt Knott of Fernhill House Majesticare and Daniel Kavanagh of Green Tree Court took second and third places respectively.

Kavanagh was also awarded Highly Commended Main for his pan-roasted chicken with wild mushroom and pastry lid, which stood out for the judges in both flavour and taste with ‘real wow and zing’.

David Whistler of The Cambridgeshire Care Home scooped Highly Commended Dessert for his pear frangipane, which the judges described as ‘simple yet skilful, with outstanding nutritional balance and taste’.

Sue Cawthray, national chair of the NACC, commented: “Huge congratulations to Aaron Watson, our NACC Care Chef of the Year 2021. All the talented finalists put on an amazing performance and were both impressive and inspiring. The judges certainly had a difficult job in deciding the winner – and I’m glad that responsibility didn’t fall to me!

“Care chefs are highly-skilled individuals, whose knowledge and culinary flair makes a real difference to the wellbeing and quality of life of the older and vulnerable people they dedicate their talent to. This has been spotlighted during the challenges of the pandemic and that is why this fantastic competition is so important.

“It not only gives our chefs the opportunity to push boundaries, develop their skills and shine, it gives care catering a platform that demonstrates and celebrates the value and contribution of care chefs up and down the country.

“They go above and beyond every day to ensure their residents and clients always enjoy person-centred, nutritious and delicious food, whatever life throws at them, and that is certainly something to be proud of and to shout about.”

Written by
Edward Waddell