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LACA launches 2024 School Chef of the Year competition

17 Nov 2023
At the LACA national seminar in Stratford-upon-Avon the 2024 School Chef of the Year (SCOTY) competition, which is sponsored by Bisto from Premier Foods, was launched to find the nation’s best school chef.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the 2024 competition was launched by last year’s winner Raheem Morgan, who previously impressed the judges with his Asian crispy fishcake to take home the trophy. He will also return to the national final to join the 2024 judging panel.  

The competition is run by LACA, the school food people, and aims to demonstrate the importance of high-quality cooking in school meals. It is sponsored by Bisto, from Premier Foods and is supported at the final by the Worshipful Company of Cooks. The deadline for school chefs to register is Friday 26th January 2024.

Louise Wagstaffe, Premier Food’s senior culinary adviser and SCOTY head judge, said: “The school food sector has come so far over the years and is now home to some of the most talented chefs. It’s always a privilege for me as head judge to be part of such a fantastic competition like SCOTY and I’m particularly looking forward to next year as we celebrate its 30th anniversary.

“School chefs have a massive influence on the food our children eat, so it’s crucial that we showcase their skill and creativity in the kitchen as well as the appearance, taste and flavour of their food.”

The competition is open to all kitchen-based staff involved in the daily preparation of pupils’ meals in schools across the UK, whether from a local authority, contract-catered site, managed in-house, academy school or part of a Multi-Academy Trust.

Competitors must use a minimum of one Premier Foods ingredient in both their main course and dessert. Judges will be looking for ‘innovative and creative ways’ the products have been used in the finished dishes.

Sarah Robb, foodservice marketing manager at Premier Foods, added: “LACA School Chef of the Year is the standout event in the education catering sector, so we’re thrilled to have formed a long-term partnership with the competition.

“As the main sponsor and with our lead role on the judging panel, we’re excited to continue to shine a light on the sector by showcasing the incredible talent of school chefs and the hugely important role they play in providing nutritious, high quality and well-balanced meals for our children.

“Celebrating its 30th anniversary, SCOTY 2024 is set to be another blockbuster event and we look forward to seeing school chefs from up and down the country enter the competition to not only showcase and develop their skills, but also put their school food on the map.”

The national final will once again be held at the LACA Main Event on Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th July at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole with the overall winner announced on the evening of Thursday 4th July.

Regional final winners will each receive a £100 cash prize. The 2024 national winner will receive a £1,000 cash prize, the 2024 LACA School Chef of the Year trophy and an invitation to a calendar of catering industry events. The national second and third place winners will receive £500 and £300, respectively.

Register your interest for SCOTY 2024 here:  

Key dates:

  • November 2023 – registrations open
  • Friday 26th January 2024 – final date for registrations
  • Friday 1st March 2024 – deadline for full entries to be returned to competition organisers
  • Mid-March 2024 – paper judging of all entries
  • Regional finalists to be notified by Friday 29th March 2024
  • April – June 2024 – regional finals
  • Late June 2024 – national finalists briefing day
  • Wednesday 3rd and Thursday 4th July 2024 – National Final at the LACA Main Event, Hilton Birmingham Metropole

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