CLAVERHAM Community College chef Alison Gann has fought off tough competition to be crowned national School Chef of the Year 2012.
After becoming the 2012 South East finalist, Alison took on nine other chefs from across the UK at the national final held at the Food Services Wing, Defence Logistics School, Worthy Down, Hampshire, on May 23.
Alison, 41, is employed by Chartwells for East Sussex County Council and she is based at Claverham Community College.
She has worked at Claverham for seven years and the food service she provides is close to her heart as her children attend the school.
They are often her harshest critic giving her daily feedback on the quality and standards they and their friends demand.
She also helps run a ‘ready, steady, cook’ type event for children in addition to cookery demonstrations, food tastings and healthy eating assemblies.
In addition to a passion for food Alison also has a passion for travel, spending her summers camping around Europe indulging in regional cuisine.
In her spare time she is the lead singer in a band.
Each finalist, who all work at the frontline of school catering, saw their preparation, cooking, creativity and presentation skills to the test.
Each entrant was required to produce, in just one-and-a-half hours, a healthy balanced two-course meal comprising of a main course and dessert that would appeal to eleven-year-olds in school.
A maximum of £1.50 was allowed for the cost of a single meal (a main course and dessert) for one child. Alison’s winning dishes were Makhani Chicken with jasmine-infused rice, cucumber raita, chapatti flat breads and apricot chutney, followed by a dessert of Kashmir Pineapple Pudding - pineapple with a baked custard.
On winning the national title of School Chef of the Year 2012, Alison said: “I was so proud to have won the national title.
“With the standard in the competition being so exceptionally high, I felt it was an achievement in itself to compete with such a talented group of people.
“All of this just goes to prove what a good job school chefs do, day in, day out, up and down the country to provide tasty, nutritious meals for millions of children.
“I am fortunate to have a great team within my employer, authority and school, all of whom have backed me and helped me throughout the competition.
“I hope that this achievement will also serve to reassure parents everywhere about the high quality, balanced and tasty meals that are provided, not only in my school, Claverham Community College, but across the length and breadth of the country.
“My employer Chartwells, my local authority, East Sussex County Council, my school, my colleagues and my students are all absolutely thrilled and honoured by this success.
“I am looking forward to an exciting year as the new School Chef of the Year 2012.”
The chair of the judging panel was Justin Clarke, food development chef for sponsors MAGGI at Nestlé Professional.
The panel also included a professional chef, a local authority catering professional, a dietician, the 2011 School Chef of the Year and an 11-year-old boy and girl.
Nestlé Professional managing director Neil Stephens said: “Alison has demonstrated in her recipes that nutrition, health and wellness can go hand-in-hand with tasty dishes that will appeal to the younger generation.”