Sir Jonathan North Community College chef has taste of success
Chef John Morrey's cooking is far better than the lumpy mashed potato and soggy chips school dinners are often remembered for.
The Sir Jonathan North Community College cook's signature dish of Red Leicester millie feuille pasta has helped him to the title of East Midlands school chef of the year.
He won the award after a head-to-head cook-off against a chef from Derbyshire – on his fourth time of entering the contest.
John impressed the judges with his two-course masterpiece which he produced for just £1.50.
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His main course of Red Leicester millie feuille – a tower of pasta with chicken, chorizo, mushrooms and Red Leicester, served with salad and bread – was followed by a dessert of Leicester Baked Apple, which was apple filled with apple noisettes and raspberries, served with crumble crust and natural yogurt.
The 45-year-old, who had reached the regional final in 2008, 2010 and 2011, said: "I am really pleased to have won the title after so many attempts.
"The judges were really complimentary about the quality of my two dishes.
"My main dish featured Red Leicester cheese. I used apples in the desert as our school was built on a former orchard and there are still a lot of fruit trees locally."
John has worked at the girls-only school in Knighton for 12 years and is part of a team of six in the kitchen.
He said: "We get good feedback from the staff and pupils about the quality of the food. The real test of the popularity is that we serve 450 meals a day."
John will now take on nine other regional winners in part of the 2013 national final scheduled for May.
He is looking forward to presenting the meal again.
If he wins, he will receive the Local Authority Caterers Association School Chef of the Year 2013 trophy, a cash prize, a day's vocational experience and invitations to a calendar of high-profile catering events.
Vi Dempster, assistant city mayor for children, young people and schools, said: "This is an outstanding achievement and an honour which John richly deserves.
"I'm absolutely delighted for him – and very proud such a talented chef is preparing healthy, balanced meals for our students every day."