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Primrose Bank care home chef tastes sweet smell of success

The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) has declared Aaron Watson of independently-owned Poulton-le-Fylde care home Primrose Bank as its 2021 Chef of the Year.

Watson was awarded the title during the official opening of the NACC Training & Development Forum 2021 at the East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham.

Matt Knott of Fernhill House Majesticare, Worcester, and Daniel Kavanagh of Green Tree Court, Lexicon Healthcare, Exeter, took second and third places respectively.

The national final took place on 6 October at Manor Farm Cookery School in Grantham.

The contestants had 90 minutes to showcase their culinary skills, creativity and knowledge in the specialist field of care catering to the expert judges, who 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 finalists had 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 £2.25 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 portfolio.

NACC said Watson impressed the judges with his 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.

Watson 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.”

Kavanagh was also awarded Highly Commended Main for his pan-roasted chicken with wild mushroom while David Whistler of The Cambridgeshire Care Home, Cambridge, scooped Highly Commended Dessert for his pear frangipane.

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