Joe Fower, head chef at Watlington & District Nursing Home in Oxfordshire, went head to head with seven colleagues from across the organisation in a 90-minute cook-off to win the final of Sanctuary Care’s Chef of the Year Competition.
Joe dished up a mouth-watering menu of lamb cooked two ways – a miniature shepherds pie and pan-fried lamb cutlet – with dauphinoise potatoes, baby vegetables and a red wine jus. Joe’s prizewinning dessert was a white chocolate crème brulee with summer fruit coulis and shortbread fingers.
The competition, which was sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions and held at their head office in Surrey yesterday, has been running for five years and is open to cooks and chefs from Sanctuary Care homes across the country.
Entrants were tasked with creating a main course and dessert which would be suitable for people in a care setting. Their dishes were judged on innovation, nutrition, balance and of course taste.
On winning first place, Joe said: “I am thrilled to have won the competition this year as the standard of entries has been really high.
“I think it is so important to have competitions like this because it gives people a chance to show their creative flair and showcase the quality of care catering. It shows people just how hard we work – we put exactly the same creativity and care into what we cook for our residents as we do into these competitions.”
In second place was Bhanuben Patel, head chef at Aashna House Residential Care Home in Streatham, who produced a delicious main of palak paneer, homemade naan bread and rice, followed by a sumptuously sweet carrot Halwa with vanilla ice cream.
Coming close behind in third place was Viviane Takemoto, chef manager at Haven Residential Care Home in Harrow. Viviane, who won 1st place in the competition last year, produced a taste bud-tantalising menu of stuffed chicken leg with sweetcorn puree and Marsala wine jus followed by coffee mousse with white chocolate cream, passion fruit coulis and coconut tuile.
Mark Ord, Sanctuary Care’s hotel and catering services support manager said: “The standard of entries this year was outstanding and our chefs should be so proud of themselves. They are a shining example of what can be achieved if you have flare and passion and we are so proud to have them as part of our team.
“Care catering is an area of the catering industry which doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves and competitions like this are a wonderful way to show how talented and creative our chefs truly are.”