School chef wins top award

Tanya Watkin, School Chef of the Year, Photo by Profile Studios
Tanya Watkin, School Chef of the Year, Photo by Profile Studios

A school chef from Eaton Bray won a top award at the Lead Association for Catering in Educational final.

Tanya Watkin, works at Woodland Middle Academy School in Flitwick and is a mobile kitchen manager for Eden Food Service, won the School Chef of the Year award.

She said: “It was brilliant to win the competition, the evening went really well, since the regionals I have practiced two or three times but I was really nervous.

“You have to use Nestle and MAGGI products because they are the competition sponsors and the food has to reflect global influences. I know in the past people have done Indonesian dishes but I wanted to do something different.

“We go to Spain a lot as we have family there, that gave me the inspiration and my children love Spanish food.”

The mother of two beat nine regional finalists from across the country with her Spanish influenced dishes.

Contestants were scored on their preparation, cooking, creativity and presentation skills, they have to produce a healthy, balanced two-course meal, a main and dessert to appeal to eleven-year-olds.

Mrs Watkin said: “I made Spanish chicken cocido for the main and a madeleine sponge baked in citrus caramel egg custard served with orange, strawberry and mint salsa for dessert.

“I have been cooking for 22 years and have been a school chef since 2006, it feels good to win this award, I love my job, it is hard work but rewarding.”