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National accolade for our chefs

Two members of the catering team at the West Suffolk Hospital come fourth in the annual NHS England Chef of the Year competition.

Chefs Connor Gutsell and Glen Stone recently competed in NHS England’s annual Chef of the Year competition, which sees catering teams from NHS trusts across the country go head-to-head. 

Having battled their way through earlier heats in Stratford on Avon, the duo competed for six days over two weeks at Lainston House in Winchester against nine other teams of NHS chefs, which they said was an “incredible experience”.

Glen said: “During the competition we cooked around 70 dishes to various briefs, such as a plant-based menu, a meal for children and energy-dense food. We could be asked for between three and nine plates, to be prepared to a deadline. From the heats to the final, it was a true collaboration between the two of us.”

Glen continued: “All round it was an incredibly exciting experience, with guest speakers and demonstrations from sponsors. There was so much information to glean and bring back – the single biggest thing was the amount of information we were given.”

Connor said they hoped to be able to compete again next year, and further improve on their position. “Last year myself and Harry Sandy were finalists in the 2022 competition, and on the back of that in September, we were invited to cook at the “Chefs’ Table” event for MPs and dignitaries at the House of Commons to celebrate 75 years of the NHS.” In addition to this, earlier in the year, Connor was also part of the team that created the official NHS 75 cake, having been asked by NHS England to create something that would commemorate the big day.

Glen said: “In Winchester, it was interesting to meet people from other trusts, and hear about the way they work. For example, we are employed by WSFT, work with local suppliers and produce everything in-house; whereas some chefs were employed by a contractor, and worked in trusts where some items are brought in ready-made.

“We had so much support from our Trust, with time to practice, and the supplies we needed brought in. The two of us taking part in the competition days did impact the team, and it was good to have that support from our managers and the Trust.”

Head chef, Luke Nobbs, said: “Connor and Glen have had a real buzz about themselves since returning and have taken on so much knowledge we can use within the department to improve further. I’m very proud of them both and what they produced, some of which we plan to put on as specials in the Time Out restaurant at West Suffolk Hospital.”

Catering manager Vanessa Theobald said: “This was an improvement on our position last year and we are very pleased and proud of their achievement.”

Executive director of resources Craig Black said: “This is amazing, such talent! We are lucky to have such a fabulous team.”

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