Academy’s cook ready for kitchen challenge

Mark Holmes, Metro Fresh executive chef at Abraham Guest Academy, North West School Chef of the Year
Mark Holmes, Metro Fresh executive chef at Abraham Guest Academy, North West School Chef of the Year
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HIS meals delight hundreds of Wigan pupils and now a kitchen wizard is hoping to cook up a storm in the finals of a national contest.

Mark Holmes is executive chef of Orrell’s Abraham Guest Academy and earlier this year beat half a dozen of his peers at the Local Authority Caterers Association competition to be crowned North West School Chef of the Year.

And now the 42-year-old is busy preparing his menu to take part in the 2012 national final next Wednesday where he will compete against nine other regional winners from across Great Britain.

Mark said: “I went into this competition thinking I would not win, but I thought I would try my best and it was a shock to win the North West final.

“I think the amount of skill with both dishes and my knowledge of why I was using certain ingredients together and trying different things impressed the judges. I just hope I can do it again.”

The annual competition is sponsored by the Maggi range from Nestlé Professional.

Each entrant is required to produce a healthy balanced two-course meal comprising a main course and dessert that would appeal to 11-year-olds in just 90 minutes, on a budget of £1.50 per child.

Neil Stephens, managing director of sponsors Nestlé Professional, said: “With so many demands from the industry, parents and children, it’s not easy for school chefs today, which is why it’s so important that training and development initiatives like School Chef of the Year get the full industry backing they deserve. Competitions like School Chef of the Year are a great opportunity to showcase the skills and dedication of those talented individuals who work tirelessly to feed our children and young people and in many cases, make a positive contribution towards improving diets and eating habits.”