After some particularly challenging heats the line-up of care chefs set to compete in the national final of the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Chef of the Year 2023 competition has been announced. The NACC unites, supports and represents everyone working in and associated with catering in the UK care sector. It is recognised as a respected source of information and opinion for the dynamic and growing area of care catering.

For more than 30 years, it has been committed to raising standards of care catering and championing the positive impact nutrition, hydration and mealtimes have on the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of older and vulnerable people in care settings.

The 2023 Competition So Far

In June, regional heats were held across the NACC Regions – Midlands, South East, Scotland, North, South West and Wales – with care chefs demonstrating that they can compete with the best when it comes to culinary skills. The prize is to represent their region in the national final scheduled to take place on 3rd October 2023.

Once again, this year’s lead judge was Steve Munkley, Vice President of Craft Guild of Chefs, who attended each region to ensure continuity. The chefs had to demonstrate to the judges their full understanding of the meals they are providing for their residents whilst introducing their own flair through contemporary flavours.

The 2023 Finalists

• Nigel Cooke – Eastcote Park, Cinnamon Care Collection
• Alex Millichamp – Chandler Court, Care UK
• Chris Mattinson – Sycamore Court, Caterplus/Elior
• Brian Preston – RBL Lister House – Royal British Legion
• Jessica Vreede – Guthrie House, Four Seasons Health Care
• Graham Watson – Lauder Lodge, Care UK
• Kasia Hab-Bialkowska – Highmarket House Care Home, Care UK
• Chris Mitchley – St. John’s House, Castlemeadow Care
• Darren Nelson – Trymview Hall Care Home, Care UK
• Daniel Bree, Hartwood House, Cinnamon Care
• Alex Connell, Vegetarian for Life
• David Sharp, Signature for Barnet, Signature Care

The ninety-minute regional heat focused on the importance of food, nutrition and positive mealtime experiences as part of quality care, entrants are challenged 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 £3.50 per head based on three portions and it must be nutritionally balanced. The menu must also feature at least one product from Unilever Food Solutions’ sector-relevant catering range.

Lead Judge, Steve Munkley said: “I have been incredibly pleased with the standards I have seen so far. This is a really important competition that shows highlights the skills within the care sector.”

Sue Cawthray, National Chair of the NACC, said: “Congratulations to the finalists of the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition 2023! The calibre of entries for this competition continues to be incredibly high, and we have seen exceptional dishes created and served by chefs across the regional heats. The finalists should be immensely proud of their efforts so far. I know that they will want to impress the judges in October.

“The national final is always a fantastic event. It highlights and celebrates the care catering sector and the exceptional talent of our chefs. Delicious, nutritious food and positive dining experiences are vital to quality care. I honestly believe that the kitchen is at the heart of a care home and mealtime experiences really are life quality enhancing, both physically and emotionally. This is why, through events like the Care Chef of the Year competition, the NACC works tirelessly to raise awareness of the amazing, rewarding work and valuable contribution of chefs and caterers in the care sector. I wish all the finalists the very best of luck.”

The NACC Care Chef of the Year competition is supported by main sponsor Unilever Food Solutions and long-standing event sponsor The Worshipful Company of Cooks.