Top of the class

A talented school cook from Liverpool has scooped the education sector’s top prize.

Holly Charnock has won the national title of LACA School Chef of the Year 2020, beating off tough competition from caterers from across the UK.

She was voted Britain’s No 1 school chef by a panel of judges at the national final, which took place at Stratford upon Avon College, Warwickshire.

The competition is the flagship event for school chefs to showcase their professional skills. It has been organised annually for over two decades by LACA – The School Food People and is sponsored by McDougalls owned by Premier Foods.

Holly is employed by Sefton Catering Services and is the chef in charge at Woodlands Primary School in Formby, Liverpool.

She said: “I am so proud to have won the national title. With the standard and skill level amongst this year’s finalists being so high, I felt it was an achievement in itself just getting through to the national final, let alone being able to compete with such a talented group of people. All of this just goes to prove what a good job school chef’s do, day in, day out, up and down the country in providing tasty, nutritious meals for millions of children.”

In second place was Raheem Morgan, who works at Coopers Lane Primary School, South East London.

His dishes were Mexican spiced chicken with tomato rice and flatbread with roasted cauliflower and pickled slaw and winter spiced crumble
– a berry and apple crumble slice with vanilla sauce.

Third place went to Cheryl Humphries, from High Weald Academy in Kent, for her dishes of “Grandma’s Chicken Dinner” – chicken breast with chicken crackling, stuffing, mash, vegetables, beetroot and horseradish sauce and gravy and “All The Fun Of The Fayre” – a cinnamon doughball with stewed and fresh apples, toffee sauce and honeycomb crumb.

In addition to the kudos of winning the national title, the 2020 champion received a £1000 cash prize and the LACA 2020 School Chef of the Year trophy. Holly also won a work experience trip and an invitation to a calendar of high profile catering industry engagements.

LACA national chair, Stephen Forster, said: “My congratulations go to Holly Charnock. Her success in taking the national title is a major achievement given the extraordinary culinary creativity and skills shown by all of this year’s competitors. LACA School Chef of the Year is a snapshot of the passion and professionalism of today’s school chefs. Working at the frontline of school catering, they all have first-hand experience of the challenges of feeding both children and young people. The competition
also shows the commitment that is put into producing both high quality,
nutritious food every day and with the imaginative ingredients, flavours and themes used for their dishes, school meals that have maximum appeal for discerning children and young people”.

For more information, visit www.laca.co.uk