A Wyre school cook is celebrating after cooking his way to the regional final of the LACA School Chef of the Year 2019 competition.
Paolo Loparco, from Charles Saer Community Primary School in Fleetwood, was chosen as a representative for the North West region after submitting his entry and photos for his main course and dessert.
Paolo will battle it out against three other cooks from primary schools across the North West in the regional heat next month.
This flagship event is run by LACA, (Lead Association for Catering in Education). The competition is open to all kitchen based staff who are involved in the daily preparation of school meals and puts their preparation, cooking, creativity, technical ability and presentation skills to the test.
The annual competition is sponsored by McDougalls, owned by Premier Foods.
This competition aims to show parents the high quality of school meals today and the contribution they make to the health and wellbeing of their children, and their physical and educational attainment.
The menu needs to reflect the seasonal availability of products and showcase the regional cultural influences of each cook.
On Friday 7 December, Paolo will prepare his signature main course of a rolled crepe filled with minced beef, spinach with tomato sauce and vegetables. This will be followed by panna cotta crumble served with fruits of the forest to try to win a place at the national final in March 2019.
Paolo said: “I was really nervous about taking part in the competition and hoping that something wouldn’t go wrong.
“I was over the moon when I got through. I’ll really focus and do as well as I can as I’m so proud to represent Lancashire in the regional finals.”
In order to get to the regional finals Paolo had to produce a healthy, balanced two-course meal in an hour and a half on a limited budget of £1.30 suitable for serving to primary school children.
The nutritional content of the dishes prepared must comply with the School Food Standards and take into account recommendations from the Eat Well Guide.
County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “School cooks face a daily challenge. Their menus have to be varied and interesting as well as being nutritious, balanced and appealing to children, and Paolo’s dish certainly sounds especially delicious.
“This national competition requires them to cook different typical school meals on a limited budget and against the clock.
“Congratulations to Paolo and I know he will do us proud in the regional finals.”
The regional finals will be held at the Fielden Campus of Manchester College.
The winning cook will go through to the national final to be held in March 2019.