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Stepping Hill Hospital cooks named NHS Chefs of the Year  

03 Nov 2022 - Press Release

Two members of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust’s catering team have been officially crowned as ‘NHS Chefs of the Year’.

Assistant Head Chefs Erica Bell and Shelley Pearson-Smith were named as the overall winners in the competition run by NHS England and NHS Improvement to celebrate the best in health service catering from across the country.

Erica and Shelley competed against other teams on a number of menu challenges at the contest final held at a catering academy in Frome, Somerset. Teams were eliminated stage by stage ‘Masterchef’- style until only the last three teams competed on the final day.

Their winning recipes were watercress soup with a poached egg, braised ox cheek, celeriac fondant and greens, and chocolate fondant with a chantilly cream, which were a great hit with the judges, who were made up of NHS England and NHSI leaders with a catering background.

The teams are judged on factors including flavour, innovation, nutritional value, affordability, and reducing the carbon footprint of ingredients. Looking at calory value and taking the needs of allergens and lifestyle factors into account were also part of the judging process.

The catering team based at Stepping Hill Hospital have already received a number of accolades for the excellent quality of their food, including winning trophies at the national Public Sector Catering Awards earlier this year, and the regional awards of the North West branch of the Hospital Catering Association last year. They were also chosen as one of 14 ‘exemplar sites’ as part of an NHS scheme improve hospital food standards across the country.

Opponents in the final week were teams from East Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Solent, West Suffolk, and Wye Valley NHS Trusts.

The winning pair received best wishes from Prue Leith of the Great British Bake Off, who said "So pleased to see that the NHS Chef 2022 trophy was won by two female chefs from Stockport’s Stepping Hill hospital. Congratulations Erica Bell and Shelley Pearson-Smith."

Support Services Manager (Catering) Duncan O’Neil said “Everyone in the catering team is absolutely thrilled that Erica and Shelley have been named as the top NHS Chefs in the country. We all knew how talented they are, but it’s fantastic to have that recognised by the whole country too. Huge congratulations to them both for making it through the tough contest and winning this well-earned reward.”


NHS Chefs of the Year  Erica Bell and Shelley Pearson-Smith with their award

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