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Current NACC Care Chef of the Year winner encourages people to enter competition

18th Apr 2024 - 06:00
2023 Care Chef of the Year winner Brian Preston
The current NACC Care Chef of the Year winner Brian Preston has encouraged chefs and cooks working in care settings to enter the competition as well as offering some advice for potential contestants.

Focusing on the importance of food, nutrition and positive mealtime experiences as part of quality care, entrants are challenged to create an appealing and delicious two-course menu (main and dessert) appropriate for people in a care setting.

The NACC Care Chef of the Year entry brochure can be downloaded here. The deadline for entries is Monday 6th May 2024.

Preston said: “After three previous entries, I entered the competition a fourth time to see if I still had it in me and I won. To put yourself out there to be judged by your peers is quite daunting, you open yourself up to criticism that you may not like.

“To prove to myself that I could still do it at age 61 has been fantastic, and shows that as chefs we never stop learning. Entering the care chef of the year competition makes you look at things in a different way, adapting and tweaking to produce a great care meal.

“What is a care meal? Well, don’t make a restaurant meal, do your residents recognise the items on the plate? Are there items that have no meaning in the dish? Does the dish give you all the right nutrition and is it wonderful to eat? Does it show care... kindness... and consideration to the residents eating it? That is a care meal.”

The combined food cost for both courses should be no more than £4.50 per head based on three portions and it must be nutritionally balanced. The menu must also feature at least one product from Unilever Food Solutions’ sector-relevant catering range.

Preston added: “To be judged by chefs at the top of their game is a real boost to the ego and shows that care catering is not how it was perceived years ago, it’s up there with the fancy restaurants and hotels, and the clientele are infinitely harder to please.

“I came into care catering age 50 and I will not leave until they kick me out, each day our catering team make a resident’s day a little bit better. The months after winning last year have been fantastic! With lots of invitations to seminars and celebration dinners, the Hilton in London, the Worshipful Company of Cooks and the Public Sector Catering Awards are just a few. Plus, I have met some fantastic passionate and caring people.

“To the real jobbing chefs entering this year, well done for having a go, you won’t regret it, the worst thing that can happen is you learn something new and have another go next year. Stop faffing about just and get on with it.”

Written by
Edward Waddell