Three LACA regions joined together at First Choice Group’s kitchen in Cannock today to establish three more candidates who will go forward to the SCOTY finals in July.
The winners for each region were Clair Edwards for the Wales Region, Lee Taylor for the West Midlands and Rose Simpson representing the North West.
For Wales - The first to be crowned was Clair Edwards from Rhiw Syr Dafydd primary school, Caerphilly, who delivered a sticky Quorn sausage skewer for the ‘Grab and Go’ snack before offering a tomato and spiced Quorn loaded chapati bread served with garlic and coriander rice. Her dessert was a delicious strawberry and lime delight.
Speaking after the award, Clair explained: “The inspiration for my menu came by liaising with the year 6 pupils at the school. As the menu is based on age 11 to 12 year olds, as their taste buds change they are willing to try different types of food. I think that these dishes will appeal to this age range as they do tend to eat with their eyes.”
For West Midlands - Academy’s Lee Taylor from the John Gulson Primary School, Coventry took the West Midlands regional crown with ‘Grab and Go’ offer of Aloo Chat Masala with cooked roti chips. His main course of Keema cottage pie with chana masala was served with an Indian pickled slaw and a sour cream and mint dip.
His Indian theme continued with a dessert of Indian spiced apple crumble with mango ice cream and fruit coulis.
Explaining his menu Lee said: “The inspiration came from the pupils within the school - we ran a mini competition to see what would be popular. We have used Quorn products within the dishes as these can be enjoyed by most of the pupils we serve due their religious beliefs, we have also used Quorn in the dessert as an emulsifier to make the dish as creamy as possible.”
For the North West - Morecambe Bay Community Primary School’s Rose Simpson, rose to the challenge for the North West Region preparing a vegan hash wrap for the ‘Grab and Go’ snack, using British vegan sausages, vegetables, and spices in wholesome wrap. Her main course was Quorn beef pieces and vegetable teriyaki with homemade noodles, before she served up a ‘Trifle Twist, raspberry jelly set with fruits, a layer of custard and topped with a ginger soil.
Rose talked about her menu saying: “I was inspired to create the chosen dishes with a colourful fusion of flavours because of an increased uptake of children in my school wanting to try more vegetarian/vegan food, all of my dishes are vegan. Where possible we select products that are sourced from local suppliers within Lancashire, therefore reducing our food miles.”
These most recent heats for this year’s competition were held at First Choice kitchens in Cannock. One further heat will be held in London next week with the final rounds being held at the LACA Main Event in July.
Quorn’s Kate Snow added, “We've been inspired by all the delicious dishes created across both categories. It's our mission to influence and engage younger generations in eating more healthily and sustainably, and it's clear from what we see at SCOTY that there is already so much progress being made in the education sector.”
Sarah Robb, foodservice marketing manager at Premier Foods said: “When you see the level of dishes the chefs are serving up in the LACA School Chef of the Year competition you know that the taste buds and health of the next generation are in good hands. Bisto is proud to partner LACA with this competition.
'We love to see how chefs use the range of products which have all been created to save them time in the kitchen.”
LACA – the school food people, was established in 1990 and is the leading professional body representing over 1000 members drawn from across the school food sector representing public sector and private contract caterers and suppliers to schools, academies, and MATs across the UK.
The LACA School Chef of the Year (SCOTY) is now in its 28th year and is something of an institution in school meals catering. It has drawn national attention with the annual winners often appearing on TV to showcase the potential that lies within the school kitchen.
In a new twist for 2022, competitors are being tasked with creating a grab & go savoury snack in addition to a delicious and imaginative main meal.
They have to use at least one Quorn product in both the new grab & go item and main course and one Bisto product from a list provided in either the snack or the main course.
Lastly, they have to create a 50% fruit-based dessert that should reflect school standards, using one Premier Foods product from a list provided.
The national final will be held at the LACA Main Event on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 July at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole with the overall winner announced on the evening of Thursday 7 July.