Chefs at Sandstones and Heyberry House care homes are finalists for Anchor 2017 Chef of the Year competition.

The two cooks from Merseyside were celebrating this week after winning a place in a national final of a catering competition.

Jacqui McGinty, 51, from Sandstones, will go head to head with Russell Hesketh, from Heyberry House, and five other chefs in the Grand Final of Anchor’s Chef of the Year competition on 5 September after their menus proved to be top class.

As part of the competition, Jacqui and Russell organised taster sessions with their respective residents from Sandstones to see which two-course menu would best represent the home. Their competition entries also included a meal for residents with dysphagia who have eating difficulties. 

The duo will now take part in a two-hour cook-off at the competition kitchens at University College Birmingham against the five other finalists in front of the judges and well-wishers in the gallery.

They will then submit their dishes to the critical eyes and taste buds of a panel of Anchor judges: National Care Quality Manager Rob Martin, Catering Manager Richard Herne, who specialises in catering for those with dysphagia, and Head of Care Maria Bamford.  

The finalists will be judged on the presentation, flavour and the originality of their two menus, which all had to be prepared from fresh, seasonal ingredients. All the dishes were examples of food the chefs serve to residents in their care homes.

Jacqui, who has been in the home’s catering team for four years, prepared the following for the competition: cheese and onion quiche with Mediterranean vegetables followed by a raspberry sponge with a vanilla sauce.

Competition organiser Andy Seal, from Anchor’s service delivery team, said: “We pride ourselves on the high standards of our catering service and Jacqui and Russell have shown that we have every right to be proud. 

“The chefs’ dishes were all delicious and well presented, making the judges’ task very difficult. All the chefs’ work shows just how good care home catering can be when there are passionate, skilled people in the kitchen.

“And it’s a great career – many chefs come to us because of the social hours they work and the big difference they make to older people’s lives.

“Jacqui and Russell are now facing the top chefs in Anchor so the competition will be tough.”

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