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Public sector chefs help inspire menu for prestigious awards night

4th Apr 2024 - 07:00
Public sector chefs help create menu for prestigious awards night
Four chefs representing the best of education, health and social care catering are collaborating on the menu for the Public Sector Catering Awards 2024, which will serve as an industry-wide showcase of their skills.

When the 650 guests at this year’s event sit down to their tables at the Hilton London Metropole today (4th April) they can look forward to a menu inspired by some of the very best chefs in the industry.

A shortlist of nominated finalists has been unveiled for 17 of the 18 award categories with the Lifetime Achievement Award given out on the night itself, where over 600 industry colleagues will celebrate the winners.

For the first time, the LACA School Chef of the Year, the NACC Care Chef of the Year, and the two-man team which won the 2023 NHS Chef competition have been invited to contribute to the menu served at the Public Sector Catering Awards.

Under the careful leadership of Hilton executive chef Paul Bates and his team, their respective winning dishes have now been woven into a three-course menu:

  • Starter: Spiced squid and shrimp tod mun pla, with carrot kale slaw, salsa edamame, wasabi lime emulsion
  • Main: Breast of corn fed chicken, with truffle creamed leeks, bacon, black pudding croquette, pea puree, glazed carrot malt vinegar jus, and apricots
  • Dessert: Braeburn apple cheesecake, with toffee apple, white chocolate, sticky toffee pudding

The four chefs concerned are Raheem Mogan, the current School Chef of the Year (SCOTY), Brian Preston, the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Chef of the Year, together with Dylan Lucas and Darby Hayhurst, the 2023 NHS Chef competition winners.

On February 12th the four winners travelled to the Hilton where they spent several hours with Paul and some of his brigade. They discussed how best to take menus they had developed with very limited budgets and to particular nutritional standards, and turn them into banqueting dishes suitable for an awards night event.

Between them they had prepared four starters, main courses and desserts, so some ideas were combined, some ingredients were swapped, and one or two flavours were tweaked. Following this the group then spent time in the kitchen turning these ideas into a starter, main course and dessert that had to win approval from a menu tasting panel.

Afterwards Paul said: “I wanted this menu to be as much as possible about these winners and their ideas. Obviously, when you scale things up from a few servings to more than six hundred not everything works, so we have had to combine one or two things and tweak others. But what you will get on the night in the starter, main course and dessert are the flavours, innovation and creativity of these leading public sector chefs.”

SCOTY winner Raheem Morgan works for Chartwells as head chef at Torridon Primary School in Lewisham, which has 640 pupils. His dishes had to meet School Food Standards and comply with the Eat Well Guide with a food cost of £1.60 per head for the two courses.

He triumphed last year with a main dish of Asian crispy fishcake with edamame bean and miso puree, served with a wasabi mayonnaise and crispy garnish. His dessert was a deconstructed lemon cheesecake with apple and basil gel, apple crisp, cherry compote and egg white meringue.

Meanwhile, Care Chef of the Year Brian Preston heads the catering team at Lister House, Royal British Legion, a care home for the armed forces in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

His title-winning dishes were breast of chicken with black pudding and apricots followed by toffee apple pudding with cinnamon ice cream. His food budget was £3 per head for two courses.

And Dylan and Darby are the winning NHS Chef competition team from the Royal Blackburn Hospital, part of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

In this competition each team has 90 minutes to prepare, cook and present a three-course meal in line with hospital food budgets. The meal must reflect Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services, the Department of Health and Social Care’s Obesity Strategy and must be nutritionally balanced in accordance with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) guidance.

Their winning dishes were a starter of Cauliflower Three Ways (tempura, chargrilled and puréed), plus a low carbon, allergen-free option of Spiced Moroccan cakes, mixed beans, served with red cabbage, apple and carrot slaw.

For the main course they cooked Pan-fried duck breast, confit of duck leg croquette served with glazed carrots, fried midnight kale and golden beetroot with a red wine jus. And for dessert they served ‘Choc, Rock and Pop Crumble’ served with caramel drops and orange tuile.

Written by
David Foad