Salisbury school chef crowned chef of the year

A CHEF at Sarum Academy in Salisbury, Jennifer Brown, won this year’s School Chef of the Year (SCOTY) competition.

In her fourth year of entering, Jennifer impressed the judges with her inclusion of fish, ambitious flavours and her creativity in creating an exciting dish on the small budget allowed per portion.

Not only has she won the title – and an invitation to come back as a guest judge next year, but she’s also won £1,000.

Jennifer won her place in the competition, run by the school food people LACA and held in Birmingham, as a wildcard entry, having come a very close runner-up at the South West region heat earlier in the year.

Chefs had just 90 minutes to make two dishes that met strict judges’ briefs around nutrition and cost.

For her main dish, Jennifer cooked ‘Easy like Monday mornay’ – baked pollock with cheese sauce in a potato and spinach case. For dessert, she prepared a rhubarb and custard meringue tart with raspberry coulis.

Jennifer wowed judges with her two courses Picture: SCOTY

Jennifer wowed judges with her two courses Picture: SCOTY

On winning, Jennifer said: “I love getting fish into the kids’ food but it’s expensive, so you have to be a little more creative around how you get it in! This dish is a perfect way – a small amount, but they still get their Omega threes.

“I like to present food in a different way – it’s all about colours and textures and something like this fish dish adds interest. It’s more fun than the standard fish and chips.”

The SCOTY competition aims to show the high quality of school meals and the contribution they make to the health and wellbeing of children.

Jennifer cooking up a storm in the competition Picture: SCOTY

Jennifer cooking up a storm in the competition Picture: SCOTY

The 12 finalists, who had competed at regional heats across the country, were judged on the use of Premier Food and Bisto products, working practices in the kitchen, creativity, appearance, taste and flavour.

They had just 1h 30 minutes to create four portions of their two-course menu that meet the School Food Standards and Eat Well Guide, with a total food cost of £1.60 per head.

Louise Wagstaffe, Premier Food’s senior culinary adviser and SCOTY head judge, said: “Jennifer’s dishes in the competition this week were delicious – full of flavour and absolutely stand-out.

“She came a very close runner-up in the regional heat which is why we awarded her the Wildcard entry and she has clearly taken on-board our feedback.

Jennifer was crowned the winner out of 12 finalists Picture: SCOTY

Jennifer was crowned the winner out of 12 finalists Picture: SCOTY

“Her main was delicious and her dessert absolute perfection – the flavours were amazing.

“The skills she showed were very high and producing such a lovely main, a potato case with fish, was a really interesting and creative twist on a fish pie or fish dish – genius.

“It was cooked to perfection and a joy to eat.

“The chefs have all showed such creativity, using the Bisto and Premier Foods ingredients in completely different ways, and meeting the School Food Standards and Eat Well Guide.

“They’ve demonstrated that even on a budget, it’s possible to serve up delicious healthy meals.”

In addition to competing in the School Chef of the Year competition last Thursday (July 4) Jennifer had also competed the previous day in the LACA Grab ‘N’ Go competition where chefs are asked to make a savoury break-time snack in just 45 minutes.

This competition was judged by Michelin-star chef Mark Sargeant – and although she didn’t win, he was impressed with the food the three chefs in this competition were able to produce on the budgets they had.

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