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North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust wins Salon Culinaire Hotelympia

Richard Kirton and Ian Cannon from North Tees Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust fought off competition from seven other hospital chef teams to take home Silver Best in Class at the coveted Salon Culinaire HCA (Hospital Caterers Association) Hot Cookery Competition.

Each chef team had one hour to cook a beef-based two-course hospital meal in front of a large crowd at the live theatre during Hotelympia.

Kirton and Cannon of North Tees won with their main meal of pot roasted beef cheeks served with vegetable and creamed horseradish mash and rhubarb and custard with Italian meringue tart for dessert.

Commenting on the win, Kirton says: “We are so pleased and surprised to win today, especially looking at the high standard around us. It’s our fifth time entering but the standard has got so much higher.”

Cannon adds: We tried the main with several cuts of beef to see which would perform best under the time limit. It’s very hard to produce slow cooked beef in just one hour. For example the pressure cooker takes 10 minutes just to pressurise, so that’s valuable time given away before you have even started.”

Colin Chapman, Head of Catering for the Trust, who was on hand to support the team says: “The team came in just under budget at £2.08, and we are thrilled they have won such a coveted award. The winning recipes will most certainly go on the menu at the hospital, starting with a trial in the restaurant.”

National Chair of the HCA, Phil Shelley adds his praise: “We are tremendously proud of the high standard and quality of this year’s competitors which seems to improve year on year.

“New recipes have a huge impact on hospital kitchens but many staff don’t have the time or resources to try out something new. This competition showcases recipes which by the nature of the competition rules will be compliant and ready to use within NHS kitchens nationwide.”

The competition, sponsored by Hobart Cooking Solutions and The Worshipful sCompany of Cooks, was judged by five prestigious Salon Culinaire chefs. No allowance was made for the hospital background and all entries were judged on restaurant quality dining.

Judge Lawrence Keogh, former head chef at London’s Wolseley comments:

“Year on year we have seen huge improvements in the HCA hospital chef competition. This year in particular I was very impressed with the hygiene and cleanliness in the way they worked, proving this is really high on their agenda. It’s absolutely marvellous that hospital chefs can compete at restaurant level, judged by award winning chefs.”

Of the winners he adds: “The judges were unanimous in their decision. The beef cheeks had good taste texture and presentation and with a few tweaks could have been awarded Gold.”

Judge Graham Crump agrees: “It’s the hardest job in the world to feed people that don’t want to be fed. These guys here today have certainly raised the bar of hospital cooking. The piping on the meringue dessert was excellent.”

And Judge Steve Oram follows up: “It’s so hard to produce flavour with the salt and fat restrictions hospital caterers are under, but the Chefs here used their skill to bring out the flavours with herbs and good ingredients. If North Tees could have cooked the Ox cheeks just a bit longer and reduced the jus to make it sticky and glossy it may have tipped Kirton and Cannon into Gold.”

The competition seeks to showcase best in class hospital catering and to highlight the constraints and unique environments that hospital chefs have to work under, producing scaled-up dining every day. A thought echoed by multiple award-winning Judge Chef Hayden Groves: “It’s a privilege to be asked to judge – these guys do fantastic essential cooking day in day out.”

David Grundy, Government Account Manager for Hobart Cooking Solutions adds: “It was a great day, one which really showed the industry and the HCA at its very best. We have supported the event for over ten years and look forward to continuing our partnership with the HCA.”


The full list of results:

Certificate of Merit

Newcastle Freeman Hospital - Mark Seales and Jamie Bolam

Frimley Park Hospital - Bilan Gurung and Bobby Womersley

University Hospital Ayr - Phil McPherson and Campbell Rodgers

Darlington Memorial Hospital - Daniel Bamlett and Ian Glenton

Golden Jubilee National Hospital - Allan Campbell and Iain Keowan

Great Ormond Street Hospital - Andrew Page and Jean Spio-Garbrah


Bronze Award

Betsi Cadwalader Local Health Board - Zoltan Furjes (North Wales Adolescent Unit – Abergele) and Robert Worgan (Ysybty Gwynedd – Bangor)


Silver Best-in-Class

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust - Richard Kirton and Ian Cannon