Eight talented school caterers have made it through to the final round of the Big School Bake Off competition, following three unmissable live heats at this year’s LACA conference.

The 18 semi-finalists held their nerve under pressure, preparing their bakes under the watchful eyes of the judging panel, including TV Bake Off winner Jo Wheatley, LACA chair Sylvie Babout and UFS business development chef Andy Lagor.

At the end of the session the judges sampled each of the creations – all of which needed to be the baker’s own recipe and suitable for serving in a school environment. The panel looked for flair, creativity and technical ability.

The eight finalists will now compete in a live final at the KNORR Kitchen on September 29.

The Big School Bake Off competition, supported by Stork and in partnership with LACA, is a key part of Unilever Food Solutions’ School Food Programme. Originally launched in 2014, the competition aims to recognise the great talent and passion in school kitchens.

Andy Lagor said: “All of our competitors were brilliant on the day, but only eight could go through and our finalists were really on a roll.  They whisked their way through the live semi-finals and proved without a doubt they can rise to the occasion.

“We’re really excited about the final, but we’d also like to thank everyone that took part in the semi-final and helped make it such a success. The icing on the cake will be seeing who is crowned the winner at our live final.”

The eight finalists and their bakes are:

  • Katie Thomas, assistant cook, Budbrooke Primary School – carrotastic muffins
  • Melanie Sinclair, chef manager, St Paul’s School – steamed summer berry sponge
  • Paula Broome, catering supervisor, Mundy Junior School – butterfly cupcakes
  • Amanda Barrett, catering manager, Bodmin College – ABC muffins
  • Stewart Smith, chef manager, Oreston Academy – Oh four goodness cake!
  • Kath Breckon (pictured), cook, West Cliff Primary School – carrot and pineapple muffins
  • Anne Holley, cook-in-charge, St Saviours Junior School – chocolate and beetroot muffins
  • Suzanne Robertson, school cook, Richmond Methodist School – custard cream biscuits

The overall winner of the competition will receive the title of Big School Bake Off 2015 winner, a trophy for their school, a workshop for four with Jo Wheatley and £100 high street vouchers donated by competition supporter Hobart UK.