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NACC Care Chef of the Year 2022 crowned

Chris Pickard of Four Seasons Health Care has been crowned National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Chef of the Year 2022.

Chris’s success was announced and celebrated last night (Thursday 6 October) in front of NACC members and guests at the NACC gala awards dinner held at the East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, which is part of the NACC Training & Development Forum 2022.

Brian Preston of Lister House - Ripon and Justina Bajorinaite from Vegetarian for Life took second and third places, respectively.

The exciting national final unfolded on Wednesday 5th October at West Nottingham College. In just 90 minutes, the line-up of talented finalists showcased their culinary skills and specialist knowledge to impress the panel of expert judges, led by Head Judge, Steve Munkley.

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 and waste management best practice.

Chris excelled across the board, impressing the judges with his mouth-watering menu of chicken ballotine with pistachio and basil stuffing, swede fondant, pea and spinach purée, smoked pepper and tomato sauce, followed by a dessert of banana and pecan frangipane tart with maple syrup crème fraîche.

Head judge, Steve Munkley enthused, “As a newcomer to the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition, I was astounded by the incredibly high standard of cooking from all the chefs. The ten finalists performed really well and exceeded all expectations.

“It was a closely fought final, which is evident in the fact that out of 500 marks, only 40 marks separated first and tenth place. However, Chris is the deserved winner, excelling in both courses.

'He showed an amazing set of skills and pushed himself to the limit in the time he had, producing a great mixture of flavours in his dishes. He was absolutely focused on the task in hand and this, in my competition judging experience, is an important characteristic of a winner.”

Justina Bajorinaite was also awarded Highly Commended Main for her satay tofu served with coconut rice and picked vegetables, and Graham Watson of Lauder Lodge Care Home scooped Highly Commended Dessert for his dark chocolate and salted caramel delice, mango whip, caramel and hazelnut garnish and tempered chocolate.

Hygiene and waste management best practice was also recognised, with Alex Millichamp of Chandler Court awarded the Hygiene Award and Brian Gollan of Ivybank House Care Home presented with the Waste Management Award.

Sue Cawthray, the NACC’s National Chair, said, “Congratulations to Chris Pickard, our NACC Care Chef of the Year 2022. What an incredible final it was! All the finalists really stepped up to the challenge. They were impressive and inspiring and gave the judges a tough job in deciding the overall winner. They should all be very proud of themselves.

“This fantastic competition is so important for care catering as it is a real showcase and celebration of the exceptional talent and excellence of chefs in our sector – something that can often be overlooked by the wider foodservice and hospitality industry.

'Not only do care chefs provide delicious, uplifting meal experiences, but they also contribute to the physical and mental wellbeing of residents and customers and play a vital role in the provision of quality care.

'It’s essential that we continue to champion and spotlight this important contribution to society and give care chefs and care catering professionals the recognition they deserve.”

The NACC Care Chef of the Year competition is supported by the main sponsor Unilever Food Solutions and long-standing event sponsor The Worshipful Company of Cooks.
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 combined food cost for both courses should be no more than £3.00 per head based on three portions and it must be nutritionally balanced. The menu must also feature a product from Unilever Food Solutions’ sector-relevant catering range.