15th June 2015

Wetherby Manor’s Head Chef Oliver is the Best Care Cook in the UK – Official!

Oliver Smith, head chef at Wetherby Manor has been crowned the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Cook of the Year 2015. This is the third year running a Hadrian Healthcare Group chef has claimed the coveted title.

The dynamic final cook-off for the national culinary competition took place on Wednesday 10 June at Barking & Dagenham College’s Technical Skills Academy. The competition spotlights the skill, talent and dedication to excellence demonstrated by chefs in the care sector on a daily basis.

In front of industry colleagues, associations and media, Oliver pulled out all the stops to impress the judges with his specially created menu that showcased real knowledge and understanding of the nutritional and dietary needs of those in a care environment, as well as innovation and flair.

Oliver’s winning menu - pork tenderloin, celeriac purée, crispy potatoes and apple followed by chocolate mousse with beetroot - was well-balanced, tasted great and was fun to eat. He demonstrated innovative use of beetroot in the dessert, great cooking of the pork and delivered on the nutrition front too.

Speaking at the competition Oliver said: “I am overwhelmed that I have won, especially within a group of such talented and like-minded chefs. The food they all produced was amazing.

“I absolutely loved the opportunity to meet other chefs and get an insight into what they do and their opinions. I also made new friends. It really has been an incredible experience.

“My residents have all tried my winning dishes so they will be thrilled that I have won!”

Neel Radia, National Chair, NACC, said: “What a fantastic national final.  Congratulations to Oliver, our NACC Care Cook of the Year 2015.  The competition was fierce and Oliver proved that he is at the top of his game and a superb ambassador for catering in the care sector.

“Catering for care environments requires specific skills, knowledge and commitment to ensure that the dietary and nutritional needs of the elderly and vulnerable are met.  Important factors such as nutrition, budget restrictions, specific dietary requirements and needs, such as dementia, dysphagia and fortification, menu planning and regulations must be understood.

“On top of this, they must also possess the culinary ability and creativity to consistently create great-tasting and attractive food that keeps service users excited.  It’s clear from every stage of the competition that these vital skills are present in abundance in care settings across the UK.”

Jas Gill, managing director of Hadrian Healthcare Group said: “Many congratulations to Oliver, he is very talented and a worthy winner. We’re absolutely delighted for him and for the team at Wetherby Manor.

“We’re also extremely proud as a company that our chefs have won the NACC Care Cook of the Year title each year for the last three years.”

Oliver began his catering career on a one week cookery course in the Alps nine years ago and was then offered a job as a chalet host. After the first season he was hooked and went back to work in the hotels. Over the next few years he worked his way through the ranks to sous chef then was appointed head chef at a brand new hotel in Austria, part of a group. His team won best hotel food in the group that year. In 2013 Oliver and fiancée moved to Yorkshire and married, but missing the Alps and the lifestyle they went back for one more season before moving to Yorkshire for good. Oliver became a chef at Wetherby Manor in February 2014 and learnt new cooking techniques and the special skills needed for care catering which he says has made him a better chef.

The NACC Care Cook of the Year competition is one of the longest-standing independent recipe competitions in the UK, successfully raising the profile of the care catering sector as an exciting career choice and championing those working within it. Open to all chefs and cooks in the care sector entrants are required to create a delicious and nutritionally balanced two-course menu, main and dessert, suitable for service users in a care setting.

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