The knives are being sharpened and the recipes honed as a chef from a Colchester care home prepares to wow the judges in a national care home cook-off.
Dan Moss, chef at Care UK’s award winning Tall Trees care home in Mile End Road, will be representing the East of England in a national competition, open to Care UK’s 113 residential and nursing homes, for the title of Chef of the Year.
After winning through the local rounds of the competition, planning menus against a budget, Dan secured his place in the Masterchef-style final, which will take place on Thursday 23 October at Unilever’s headquarters in Leatherhead, Surrey.
Dan will face three other regional finalists as he prepares main courses and desserts for the panel of four judges in a two-hour race against the clock.
Jon Bicknell, Care UK’s Residential Care Service’s food and services director and head judge, said: “As people get older, their appetites may become smaller but that makes it even more important to create tempting food that is jam-packed with key nutrients.
“Judges at the cook-off will be looking at presentation, texture, nutritional value and the use of ingredients and, of course, the flavour. I know, using the first rounds as a benchmark, that we will see an exceptionally high standard in this cook-off.”
Dan said: “I have worked in hotels, restaurants pubs and hospitals, but this is the most rewarding job. The feedback from the residents is so positive and they really enjoy joining in with the menu planning.
“It can be a challenge as some enjoy plain English cooking while some prefer more exotic and adventurous food, but it is a challenge I relish.”
Katherine Foley, home manager at Tall Trees care home, said: “Dan is an excellent chef. Whenever a new resident joins, I email him with any dietary requirements and he ensures everyone has delicious food that suits their nutritional and medical needs.
“Everything is home-cooked and Dan keeps a list of birthdays in the kitchen so a resident’s birthday never passes without a cake and he also supports our charity fundraising events by baking cakes for coffee mornings.
“The residents have a great sense of fun and we have lots of events in the home. Dan works closely with our activities coordinators so that, if we are having a themed day, Dan creates a menu to match. He really is a chef in a million.
The winner of the competition will be announced at the Residential Care Services Gala dinner on Thursday 20 November.