A Hendon chef is celebrating today after being named the winner of a national cooking competition.
Lendita Pllanna, Head Chef at Care UK’s Elmstead House care home, won through two rounds to represent the South in the Care UK Chef of the Year contest and at the final, went on to scoop the top award.
Lendita, who has worked at Elmstead House for six years, was competing against four other Care UK chefs at the final, representing homes from across the country.
All four finalists had previously won their heats against other chefs at homes in their regions before going forward to the final, which was held in the professional kitchens of Unileaver Food Solutions in Leatherhead.
The competition, run across Care UK’s 87 care and nursing homes, was held to find the chef who created the most innovative, tasty and nutritious two course meal.
Judging at the finals were Care UK’s Operations Director Jenni Azizi, Finance and Commercial Director Angela Culhane, Business Development Director Richard Pearman and Unilever Head Chef Andy Lagor.
Also on the judging panel was author and food critic Charles Florman, who is a resident at Care UK’s Greville House in Richmond, Surrey. Mr Florman is the author of the Florman’s Guide series of books about restaurants around Europe.
Lendita’s winning menu saw her serve lamb chops with new potatoes, mixed vegetables and a red wine sauce for her main course and apple strudel with cream and raspberry coulis for dessert.
All the finalists dishes were judged on presentation, texture, nutritional value, use of ingredients and flavour.
Iain Stott, Care UK’s Hotel Services Manager, co-ordinated the competition and said: “As people get older, appetites may become smaller but that makes it even more important to create tempting food that is jam-packed with key nutrients.”
All the finalists were presented with hampers provided by Unilever.
The ingredients used by the finalists were supplied by food wholesalers 3663 and Lendita was also given £150 of kitchen supplies vouchers provided by 3663 for her to spend at Elmstead House.
Lendita was crowned as Care UK Chef of the Year at an awards ceremony in Reading where she was joined by colleagues from across the company and presented with £250 of Love To Shop vouchers, a trophy, winners pin badge and a bottle of champagne.
The annual awards ceremony celebrates the achievements of individuals and teams from across Care UK’s care homes, day clubs and supporting offices.