12 Dec 2014
Nestlé’s Executive Development Chef has praised the high standards of design in Anchor's national Christmas cake competition final at Denham Garden Village, Uxbridge.
Culinary expert Steve Oram joined judges from Anchor’s management team and customer forum for the grand final of the annual competition. Steve was impressed with the effort people across the country had put into making their Christmas cakes.
The judges had to decide the winners at the competition final held at Anchor’s flagship retirement village on Denham Green Lane, Denham, on Wednesday 10th December.
Steve said: “I’ve judged a lot of competitions at Salon Culinaires and as part of my work with the Local Authority Catering Association, and I can honestly say some of the cakes I’ve seen today are at that level.
“I love the Anchor ethos of including everyone; you can tell the entries in the care home category in particular were a real team effort. On the other hand, bakers in the housing category did it all on their own, which is amazing. The Anchor colleagues’ efforts show real skill, so it’s nice to know customers are being well fed!
“I know how much time and effort it takes to create things like this, so it was wonderful to see people from Anchor’s properties all across the country getting involved. What a great start to the Christmas season.”
After over 200 cakes were entered in seven regional competitions, just 63 made it to the final. Contestants had travelled from as far as Southampton and Ripon to attend, showing how important the competition is to Anchor customers and colleagues.
Designed around a theme of ‘what Christmas means to me’, many of the cakes had been in the works since September, with carefully chosen ingredients and intricate decorations.
Presenting the winners with trophies and champagne, Anchor’s National Care Quality Manager Rob Martin said: “It was a very challenging judging process, as you can really see the effort and passion that’s gone into each cake.
“The Christmas cake competition is a major event in the Anchor calendar, looked forward to by colleagues and customers alike. It’s a fantastic way to bring everyone together, which I think explains why the competition grows year on year.
“I did some research in preparation for my judging duties, and found out that it’s bad luck to cut the cake before Christmas Eve – so, apologies to the catering team, but I think it was worth it!”
In the staff category, which was sponsored by SHS Specialist Hygiene Services, the winner was June Jackson from Peveril Court, who had created an incredibly ornate Christmas hymn book cake (pictured above). Vanessa Travis from West Hall came second with her cake inspired by The Snowman, and Elena Morton from St Anne’s came third with her cake depicting carol singers conducted by a penguin.
In the housing category, which was sponsored by Bidvest 3663, the winners were Terry Adley and Barbara Bailey from Scholebrook Court, whose cake was decorated with an amazingly detailed scene of Santa’s elves eating Christmas dinner (above). In second place was a group effort by The Battery in Newquay, and in third place was Joan Emms from Denham Garden Village; both cake designs featured Father Christmas working his magic.
In the care category, which was sponsored by Clifton Buying Group, the winning cake was an amazing Christmas hamper design by Keswick care home in Surrey (below). Second prize went to Millbeck care home in Stockton-on-Tees for their WWI centenary themed cake, and third prize went to Dawson Lodge in Southampton for their cake decorated with residents’ happy Christmas memories.
CBG also awarded Keswick a special prize, of a VIP experience for two people to see Take That perform at Manchester Arena and stay overnight in a 5 star hotel with £250 spending money. Resident Irene Stansfield proudly collected the prizes, accompanied by nurse Sally Caldwell and manager Andrea Keen (pictured).
Competition organiser Richard Herne, Anchor’s Catering Manager, said: “Anchor’s Christmas cake competition really makes you realise what talented, brilliant people we have living with us and working in our organisation.
“Everyone who entered is a winner – I can see the enjoyment and satisfaction people get out of making the cakes. I’ve been amazed by the standard of the entries, and the stories behind the designs often bring a tear to my eye.
“This competition is so important for our residents, as baking is an enjoyable activity they would have done with their families when they were younger. Even those with very advanced dementia have fond memories of the festive season, which can be evoked by the smell and taste of Christmas cake.”
For more details on Denham Garden Village retirement community, please call 0845 140 2020.