School chef Sue just misses out in cookery finals
Friday 14th February 2014 @ 09:00 by Max Wieland
I’LL BE BACK: Sue with her completed dish, which missed out by just half a vote in the competition, but which will be on the Dukinfield school menu.

I’LL BE BACK: Sue with her completed dish, which missed out by just half a vote in the competition, but which will be on the Dukinfield school menu.

A Dukinfield primary school chef narrowly missed out on being crowned the best cook in the North West at this years LACA (Lead Association for Catering in Education) North West School Chef of the Year 2014 competition.

Sue Knight, a kitchen supervisor at St John’s C of E Primary School in Westmorland Avenue, had already been crowned the best in Tameside for the second year running, but was cruelly pipped to the North West post by just half a vote.

“It was a shame, I was already disappointed to come second, but even more so when I found out how close it was,” said Sue.

“I didn’t get through to the National final last year so I wanted to try again for Tameside, so to get so close again was a disappointment.

“But you can’t get beat down about it too much, it’s all experience and I will definitely try again next year.

“I received some very encouraging comments, so hopefully next time it will be a case of third time lucky!”

Sue was up against four other finalists from neighbouring boroughs Stockport, Cheshire and Manchester, while ten other regional finals took place across Britain.

Debbie Sidlow from Manchester (Moston) took the title and has become the North West School Chef of the Year 2014.

The annual competition ends in May when the National champion is crowned.

The contest is held every year in order to show the high quality of school meals to parents.

It also shows how important a contribution school cooks make to not only the health and wellbeing of their children, but also their physical and educational attainment.

During the competition each entrant is 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 11-year-olds in school.

A maximum of £1.60p is allowed for the cost of a single meal (i.e. main course and dessert) for one child, with the competition rules requiring recipes to reflect the global influences on school meals.

Sue’s menu consisted of chicken en croute with sauté potatoes and spicy ratatouille finished off with banana, raspberry and caramel soufflé served with a warm chocolate sauce.

“ideal candidate”

Despite not coming out as the top flavour overall at the final held at Manchester College, Sue hopes it will become a fixture on the school menu at St John’s in the future.

“I just thought it was something different for the children,” she said.

“Hopefully it will go on the menu because when the children tried it in my practice sessions they loved it.”

Sue was originally nominated for the competition by John Riley, the Area Supervisor for Tameside Primary School Catering.

And despite narrowly missing out on a place in the national final for the second year running, John still had
nothing but high praise for the Dukinfield chef.

He told us: “I encouraged Sue to go in for the competition because she is a really good cook and the children really like her school meals, they think they’re excellent, so she was the ideal candidate.

“I knew she would do as well as she did because her presentation is excellent, her food tastes and looks amazing and she has once again received some great comments from the judges.

“I am very proud of her, she did brilliantly.”

DELICIOUS: Sue's completed dishes

DELICIOUS: Sue’s completed dishes