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North West School Chef takes the LACA School Chef of the year 2020 Crown

HOLLY Charnock from Liverpool, the 2020 North West Regional finalist, has won the national title of LACA School Chef of the Year 2020. She was voted Britain's No 1 School Chef by a panel of judges at the National Final which took place on 5 March 2020, at Stratford upon Avon College, Warwickshire. The competition is the flagship event for School Chefs to showcase their professional skills. It has been organised annually for over 2 decades by LACA - The School Food People and is sponsored by McDougalls owned by Premier Foods.

Holly's winning dishes were:- Main Course - Braised beef tortellini on a bed of soya bean and spinach, a tomato and basil sauce, balsamic reduction and a parmesan crisp. Dessert - Chocolate and beetroot brownie served with banana ice cream, crumble and a raspberry and vanilla coulis. Amongst the ingredients used in her main course were McDougalls Plain Flour and McDougalls Thickening Granules. In her dessert, Holly also used McDougalls Thickening Granules as well as McDougalls Brownie Mix and McDougalls Crumble Mix. Holly is employed by Sefton Catering Services and is Chef in Charge, at Woodlands Primary School, in Formby, Liverpool. She has been a School Chef for 5 years and prepares 240 meals a day for 4 to 11 year olds.

The winner of the 2nd place Award was Raheem Morgan, from London, for his dishes of Mexican spiced chicken with tomato rice and flatbread with roasted cauliflower and pickled slaw and winter spiced crumble; a berry and apple crumble slice with vanilla sauce. He is employed by Chartwells Lewisham and is based at Coopers Lane Primary School, Grove Park, South East London.

3rd place was awarded to Cheryl Humphries from South East England for her dishes of "Grandma's Chicken Dinner" chicken breast with chicken crackling, stuffing, mash, vegetables, beetroot and horseradish sauce and gravy and "All The Fun Of The Fayre" cinnamon doughball with stewed and fresh apples, toffee sauce and honeycomb crumb. She is employed by ISS Education and is based at High Weald Academy, Cranbrook, Kent.

In addition to the kudos of winning the national title, the 2020 champion received a ₤1000 cash prize and the LACA 2020 School Chef of the Year trophy. The winner has also won a work experience trip and an invitation to a calendar of high profile catering industry engagements between 2020 to 2021. The national second and third place winners received cash prizes of ₤500 and ₤300 respectively.

The 2020 National Final was a thrilling finale to this year's competition. 10 Regional Champions and 2 additional Judges' Wild Card Finalists battled against each other for the title in what was a fiercely fought contest. Against the clock and under the scrutiny of the judges, they had a maximum of ₤1.30 to spend and 90 minutes to prepare, cook and serve an imaginative, School compliant 2 course menu. This had to meet all of the judging criteria which included the use of a minimum of 1 different McDougalls product in each course. Contestants could choose ingredients from a wide selection of McDougalls Foodservice products. In addition, the meal had to be suitable for serving en masse in School to 11 year olds.

Chair of the School Chef of the Year 2020 Judging Panel is Mark Rigby, Executive Chef, Premier Foods. Joining Mark on the panel at the 2020 national final will be an independent catering industry professional guest Chef, an education catering expert (Sharon Armstrong, LACA), the reigning LACA School Chef of the Year 2019, Steven Cross from Hampshire and the 2019 McDougalls Young Baking Team of the Year finalists who are pupils at Kingstone and Thruxton Primary School, Hereford (Joseph Rickwood, Oliver Stokes and Sophie Ellis).

Commenting on the outstanding professional standard of all of the 2020 national finalists, LACA National Chair, Stephen Forster said:- "My congratulations go to Holly Charnock. Her success in taking the national title is a major achievement given the extraordinary culinary creativity and skills shown by all of this year's competitors. LACA School Chef of the Year is a snapshot of the passion and professionalism of today's School Chefs. Working at the frontline of School catering, all have 1st hand experience of the challenges of feeding both children and young people. The competition also shows the commitment that is put into producing both high quality, nutritious food every day and with the imaginative ingredients, flavours and themes used for their dishes, School meals that have maximum appeal for discerning children and young people."

Mark Rigby, Executive Chef, Premier Foods, commented:- "Firstly, a massive congratulations to Holly Charnock. Her winning dishes of braised beef tortellini on a bed of soya bean and spinach, a tomato and basil sauce, balsamic reduction and a parmesan crisp and chocolate and beetroot brownie served with banana ice cream, crumble and a raspberry and vanilla coulis represent the high standard of food that our creative School Chefs serve to children all around the UK. All of the finalists performed so well both in their Regional finals and at the national final, that as judges we had a very difficult decision to make. All of the contestants conducted themselves professionally, with creativity and worked efficiently in the kitchen, so much so that there was a lot of back and forth and discussion around who the winner would be. The LACA School Chef of the Year competition is a great way to highlight and really showcase just how delicious and innovative School meals can be, and as McDougalls we are so proud to be involved and really celebrate the industry. I look forward to seeing Holly go forward and continue to develop her skills and School menu along with having some amazing experiences as the LACA School Chef of the Year 2020. I really hope that her success has inspired other caterers to get involved in the competition next year!"

On winning the national title of LACA School Chef of the Year 2020, Holly Charnock said:- "I am so proud to have won the national title. With the standard and skill level amongst this year's finalists being so high, I felt it was an achievement in itself just getting through to the national final, let alone being able to compete with such a talented group of people. All of this just goes to prove what a good job School Chef's do, day in, day out, up and down the country in providing tasty, nutritious meals for millions of children. I am fortunate to be part of a great team within Sefton Catering Services and Woodlands Primary School, all of whom have supported me throughout the competition. I hope that this amazing achievement will also serve to reassure parents everywhere about the high quality of School food and how well balanced and tasty the meals we provide are, not only at Woodlands Primary School, in Formby, but across the length and breadth of the country. My employer, my School, my colleagues and the pupils for whom I cook, are all absolutely thrilled and honoured by this success. I am looking forward to an exciting year as the new LACA School Chef of the Year national champion."

Education programme developed to tackle 'escalating' knife crime culture

2 ex-soldiers have vowed to help tackle the country's knife crime epidemic by educating young people about its devastating effects. Friends John Duff and Derry Barton, former Corporals with the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, based in Preston, have launched a new initiative after being shocked by the level of violent crime in the UK following 5 years stationed in Abu Dhabi. In October 2019, the National Crime Survey stated there was a total of 47,513 offences involving knives or sharp instruments reported to Police in the 12 months leading up to June 2019. John, of Liverpool, and Derry, formerly of Toxeth in Liverpool and currently living in Marbella, decided they needed to do something and re-invented themselves, putting their army careers behind them, creating an anti knife crime programme for young people aged 13 and above. John said:- "We'd only been back to the UK twice during a 5 year period and couldn't believe the wave of violent knife crime that had gripped the nation. We discussed how we could help change things and thought about developing tailored courses for young people in a bid to tackle the escalating knife crime epidemic."

The free online course they developed, in partnership with Psittacus Systems, has now been accredited by The CPD Accreditation Group. The Northamptonshire based organisation provides CPD accreditation to training partners and providers throughout the UK. The programme features statistics, case studies, and useful tips to avoid confrontation. John added:- "We've got to give young people hope. By the end of 2019, hundreds of people will have been killed by a blade in Britain. By delivering our course to those who work with young people we are beginning to look at what is causing this violent knife crime epidemic, and what we can do to stop it. We want to get inside the minds of young people and make them think about what they are doing before they do it. You need to educate people in order to do that."

According to the National Crime Survey threats to kill, where a knife or sharp instrument was involved in England and Wales (excluding Greater Manchester) rose by 178% from 1,352 in the period from April 2010 to March 2011 to 3,764 from July 2018 to June 2019.  Attempted murder involving a knife or sharp instrument rose by 90% from 217 in the period April 2010 to March 2011 to 412 from July 2018 to June 2019. Mick Judge, Accreditation and Quality manager of the CPD Accreditation Group, said:- "The CPD Accreditation Group helps organisations formalise knowledge into a structured and recognised approach to meet the increasing expectation for professionals to undertake CPD regardless of industry sector, career level, job role and responsibilities. Formally certified CPD materials are more likely to become accepted and welcomed by audiences. Once Derry and John explained their vision we put our full weight behind it. At the time there had been reports of 2 or 3 cases in Northamptonshire alone, the problem was spiraling. Together with Andy Donnachie, Project Manager, and the Quality Assurance Team of Psittacus Systems, 1 of the fastest growing bespoke software developers in the UK and host to the Psittacus Learning Management System; Mick, John and Derry have successfully developed the programme, which is now live."

Andy, said:- "This inspiring course will go a long way to raise awareness about knife crime in Schools and at home. It has been designed for everyone to use in a bid to tackle this growing problem and we will be circulating it to anyone and everyone, for free, using our existing platform. We believe this is such an important subject that we were really happy to work with, and to support, John and Derry to get the message out there."

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