>> It was a case of ‘third time lucky’ for Tanya Watkin, who has scooped the coveted LACA School Chef of the Year title.

Tanya, who works at Woodland Middle Academy School in Flitwick, Bedfordshire, claimed the award after reaching the national final for the third time.

She was one of nine regional winners at the final held at the Defence Logistics School, near Winchester, Hampshire. The competition, organised annually by LACA, is sponsored by Maggi® from Nestlé Professional.

Tanya served up to judges a main course of Spanish chicken cocido (chicken, vegetable and chickpea stew flavoured with saffron served with chorizo tortilla and rustic bread) followed by Crema de Sant Josep (madeleine sponge baked

in citrus caramel egg custard served with orange, strawberry and mint salsa).

This celebrated annual competition aims to show the high quality of school meals to parents and the important contribution they can make to not only the health and wellbeing of their children but also their physical and educational attainment.

The contestants are scored on their preparation, cooking, creativity and presentation skills. Each entrant is required to produce a healthy, balanced two-course meal comprising a main course and dessert designed to appeal to eleven-year-olds in school. A maximum of £1.60 is allowed. With the competition rules requiring recipes to reflect the global influences on school meals and the ethnic and cultural mix of a school’s pupil population, competition sponsor, Maggi® included an extensive selection of its products in the competition basket to help contestants’ enhance the creativity of their menus.

Head of food at Nestlé Professional, Susan Gregory, said: “Once again we have been impressed by the chefs’ ability to create healthy, nutritious and tasty meals on a limited budget. With the Universal Free School Meals Plan looming, the subject of nutrition in our children remains high on the news agenda and LACA School Chef of the Year is an important opportunity to showcase the

talent and passion of the people who feed our nation’s children.”

On winning the title, Tanya said: “I was so proud to have won the national

title. With the skill amongst this year’s finalists being so high, I felt it was an achievement in itself to compete with such a talented group of people. All of

this just goes to prove what a good job school chefs do, day in, day out, up and down the country to provide tasty, nutritious meals for millions of children.

“I am fortunate to have a great team within my organisation, all of whom

have backed me and helped me throughout the competition. I hope that this achievement will also serve to reassure parents everywhere about the high quality, balanced and tasty meals that are provided, not only in Woodland

Middle School Academy but across the length and breadth of the country.”