The National Association of Care Catering (NACC) declared Martin McKee of The Hawthorns, Aldridge, the NACC Care Chef of the Year 2019, on Wednesday 5 June, following a closely fought national final.
Stratford-upon-Avon College provided a new venue for the final of the prestigious culinary competition. With a purpose-built viewing gallery, the audience of supporters and industry colleagues watched the excitement unfold as the talented finalists showcased their culinary skills, creativity and knowledge in the specialist field of care catering under the judges’ expert eyes.
The standard of competition was incredibly high, but Martin stood out to take the coveted title with his excellent menu of Pan roast cod, fondant potatoes, garden peas and vegetables with sauce vierge and a dessert of white chocolate, lemon and thyme mousse, rosemary shortbread with sherbet and raspberry.
The judges were impressed by Martin’s all-round approach, from his knowledge to the excellent results achieved. Head Judge Bev Puxley said: “His presentation was right, the taste was right and his understanding of the suitability for his clients was spot on.”
Martin McKee said on winning: “I’m speechless! I’m overwhelmed, especially after seeing the standard peak on this my fourth year of competing. I’m absolutely honoured to have won; it has been four years in the making. Avery has been a driving force for me to succeed, and also for other care chefs – they had three chefs in this final!”
Tim Ware of Green Tree Court, Exeter, took second place, with Carl Weston of Cuffley Manor Care Home, Potters Bar, taking third place.
Martin McKee was also awarded Highly Commended Main and Graham Watson of Lauder Lodge, Edinburgh, took the certificate for Highly Commended Dessert.
Neel Radia, the NACC’s national chair, said: “What an amazing NACC Care Chef of the Year national final we’ve just experienced! Huge congratulations to Martin McKee from The Hawthorns on taking the title. It was a closely fought competition with the standards higher than ever. All the finalists did an excellent job and they should be very proud of themselves.
“The NACC Care Chef of the Year competition provides a fantastic platform to showcase the incredible talents of care chefs and raise the profile of care catering and the rewarding and exciting career opportunities it offers. This is exactly what we’ve achieved this year. From menu development, flavour combinations and presentation to execution, nutritional knowledge and professionalism, the finalists delivered and impressed. They are wonderful ambassadors for the care sector. Being able to watch the chefs in action was a real treat for their supporters and our guests, and we thank Stratford-upon-Avon College for being such great hosts.”
The NACC Care Chef of the Year competition, which is proudly supported by the main sponsor Premier Foods and the Worshipful Company of Cooks, recognises the excellence of chefs working in the care sector.
Mark Taylor, foodservice customer controller at Premier Foods, comments: “On behalf of myself and everybody at Premier Foods we want to wish a huge congratulations to Martin McKee for being crowned the NACC Care Chef of the Year 2019, it was really well deserved. Well done to all those who took part, it was a tough competition and the standard was incredibly high, everyone who took part did the care chef industry proud. Martin’s dishes of pan roast cod, fondant potatoes, garden peas and vegetables with sauce vierge and white chocolate, lemon and thyme mousse, rosemary shortbread with sherbet and raspberry tasted amazing and from start to finish he executed winning qualities, from his final presentation to the cleanliness and techniques used during cooking. I wish every contestant big successes as they progress in their careers, from the standard I have witnessed, I have no doubt that they will all go on to do great things for the care chef industry. The NACC Care Chef of the Year competition is a fantastic celebration of the talent our industry has and the finalists’ dishes really showcased the innovation and quality care catering holds nowadays.”
The competition challenges entrants to create a two-course menu (main and dessert) that is suitable for service users in a care setting. The combined food cost for both courses should be no more than £2.25 per head and it must be nutritionally balanced. The menu must also incorporate one of the listed Premier Foods products and be produced in just 90 minutes.