Dinner lady makes final of School Chef of the Year
Tanya Watkin's mouth watering dishes have got her to the Chef of the Year finals
A cook at Eaton Bray Lower School in Bedfordshire could be crowned School Chef of the Year.
Tanya Watkin won the regional heats by cooking Lamb and Filo Scrunchy and Wholemeal Chocolate Cake with a Strawberry Compote for dessert.
She will now represent the East in the finals this May against nine cooks from across the country.
Competitors had to cook a low cost, healthy two course meal for 11 year olds under timed conditions.
The Bedfordshire cook told BBC Three Counties Radio she is delighted to get through to the national finals.
However, she admits she is very nervous about the big day.
Tanya who has been a chef for 20 years, only started working in schools four years ago but has already come up with inventive ideas to get the children eating healthily.
She regularly hosts themed school dinners for pupils which have incorporated Father's Day and Chinese New Year.
Tanya explained how recently she went all out for a Wild Wild West themed day which the pupils loved:
"We wore cowboy hats, and they had burritos and everything was called something different on the menu and they really enjoyed that."
The School Chef of the Year is an annual competition run by the Local Authority Caterers Association.
The aim of the competition is to put the preparation, cooking, creativity and presentation skills of school chefs to the test.
Entrants had to make a healthy balanced two course meal that cost a maximum of £1.25 per head in under one and a half hours.
Tanya's winning dishes
Tanya's dishes had to impress the panel of judges.
The panel included a professional chef, a local authority catering expert, a dietician and two junior judges aged 11 years old.
Judging was based on eight strict criteria.
The criteria ranged from flavour and presentation to the ability to replicate the dishes en masse in school and seasonality of ingredients.
The panel preferred Tanya's meal and dessert more than her competitors, Annette Newman from Roger de Clare School in Hertfordshire and Hilary Hudson from St Mary & St John Primary School in Cambridgeshire.
Tanya's winning main course was a lamb scrunchy with redcurrant and herb sauce, stuffed new potatoes with summer roasted vegetables.
Her mouth watering dessert was a wholemeal chocolate cake with a strawberry compote and a banana and strawberry baby chino.
All the staff and pupils at Eaton Bray Lower School are keeping their fingers crossed for Tanya in the finals!
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