Knives were sharpened and recipes honed as a chef from an Ipswich care home went into battle to win a prestigious title.
Garry Newman, chef at Care UK’s Hawthorn Drive care home, represented the east in a national competition for the title of Chef of the Year.
After winning through the rounds of the competition in his region, Garry won a place in the national finals of the competition organised by Care UK to find the best residential care home chef.
The Masterchef-style final, which took place on Thursday 17th October, saw Garry face three other regional finalists. Two weeks before the event, the chefs received a list of the ingredients available on the day and at the finals, they had two hours to cook a main course and dessert.
Garry, who has worked as a chef in hotels, restaurant and pubs, said: “I love my job and I would recommend to any chef that they spend some time working in care catering.
“We cook all our food fresh with only fresh ingredients and we have an interesting set of challenges, with people on a wide range of diets including diabetic, gluten free and some very high nutritional diets for people recovering from illness. I think it makes you a more creative cook.
“We are also beginning to see a change in the generation that are now living in the home and curries are becoming popular, alongside our roasts and fish and chips, and in the next five years, I think we will see requests for more foreign food.
“It is very rewarding to be able to talk to the residents and really get to know their likes and dislikes in a way that you can’t expect in a commercial environment.”
Deputy manager Lisa Shepherd said: “The residents really like Garry. He is always talking to them about their choices and what they like. He is a good manager and leads a really committed team who respect him and he is a really dedicated team player. Whenever we are raising funds, at events such as our recent MacMillan coffee morning, he bakes cakes for us and his mum sends in cakes too.”
Iain Stott, Care UK’s Hotel Services Manager, coordinates the competition. He 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 looked at presentation, texture, nutritional value and the use of ingredients and, of course, the flavour. Using the first round as a benchmark, we knew we could expect an exceptionally high standard in this cook-off, and so it proved.”
Garry wowed the judges with pan-fried loin of cod wrapped in Parma ham, chive mash and julienned vegetables, followed by a trio of desserts.