National award for Ellon chef

John Grover with his two winning dishes
John Grover with his two winning dishes

An Ellon care home chef has been crowned the National Association of Care Catering’s Chef of the Year for 2018.

John Grover, who works at Auchtercrag, saw off competition from 11 other finalists at the event, which took place at Barking & Dagenham College’s Technical Skills Academy on Wednesday, June 6.

After 90 minutes of intense competition, John claimed the title with his winning menu of lamb with black pudding and herbs followed by chocolate and raspberry fondant cheesecake, with caramel port cream.

The judges were impressed with John’s well-presented, unique dishes that showed inventive use of classic ingredients, featured varied textures and, of course, tasted great.

They also highlighted his excellent use of inexpensive produce.

From a nutritional perspective, his knowledge and understanding of the needs of care home residents was praised.

On winning the title, John said: “I’m absolutely elated to have won.

“This is the fourth year I’ve entered the competition and my second time in the final. It’s been a long time coming.

“I took on board the judges’ comments from previous years, practised in a different kitchen, and got my residents and various people in and out of the industry to try my dishes and give feedback. Planning and practice was definitely the key.”

Sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Cooks and Premier Foods, the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition spotlights the care catering sector and the talented, qualified chefs operating within it.

Entrants are challenged to create a nutritionally-balanced, two-course menu that is suitable for service users in a care setting.

The combined food cost for both courses must be no more that £2.25 per head based on four portions and is to be produced in just 90 minutes.

David Blackwood, regional catering manager at Meallmore, said: “We’re all extremely proud of John’s win. He is a fantastic chef and a true testament to what we invest in at Meallmore.

“Some of the judges commented on the fact that it is rare to find a chef who can articulate his knowledge of the nutritional aspect of the needs of his residents so well.”