The 10- strong line up of school chefs who will come face to face on March 2 to compete for the LACA School Chef of the Year 2017 national title, have been unveiled.

The 2017 national final will be held at Stratford upon Avon College and is expected to be a fiercely fought cook-off. For the first time in its history, the competition has seen more male school chefs taking part than ever before which has now resulted in a unique 50:50 male:female line up for this year’s final.

At all stages of the competition, each contestant has a maximum of £1.30 to spend and just one and a half hours to prepare their dishes. They are required to produce a healthy balanced two-course meal comprising of a main course and dessert that would appeal to eleven year olds in school. The meals of all competitors must comply with the School Food Standards and take into account the Eat Well Guide 2016. The judges also want to see evidence of use of locally sourced ingredients and the use of sustainable products.

In addition to the kudos of winning the national title, the 2017 champion will this year receive a £1000 cash prize. He or she will also be awarded the LACA 2017 School Chef of the Year trophy, a commemorative plaque, a work experience trip and an invitation to a calendar of high profile catering industry engagements between 2017-2018. The national Highly Commended Main Course and Dessert winners will also receive a cash prize of £500 each and commemorative plaques.

Sally Shadrack, LACA national chair, says: “LACA School Chef of the Year is a fantastic way of showing why every school should be striving for a high quality school meals service. School meals play a pivotal role in laying the foundations for children’s future eating habits and their long term health. Not only do our front line chefs prepare tasty and imaginative dishes to tempt discerning tastebuds but also nutritious meals that can make a major contribution towards altering eating habits, improving diets and decreasing obesity levels. Following a balanced diet and eating well can help our children achieve more both academically and physically. All of the contestants who have taken part this year should be inspirational role models for the food and beverage service in every school nationwide.”