School catering staff displayed their creative talents in the Great NISCA Bake Off competition with schools from throughout the Education Authority battling it out in the grand final.
Based on the hit BBC series, 22 entries were whittled down to five for the final held at Antrim board centre where Yolanda Johnston and Pat Skelton from Downshire School, Carrickfergus most impressed the judges to lift the crown.
Organised by the Northern Ireland Schools Caterers’ Association (NISCA), the competition showcases the talent within the school catering service. Each team was required to produce a bread, a tray bake and a cup cake to be judged by local celebrity chef Paula McIntyre and former Ulster University catering lecturer Lucy Campbell.
“The entries were of an extremely high standard. They all showed imagination, attention to detail, time management, a fantastic use of flavours and textures and above all great taste,” said Paula.
Five regional heats took place in April, with the winners from each heat going forward to the final. The five regional winners were:
Southern Area – Elizabeth Smitton, St Patrick’s PS, Aughadarragh and Anne Marie O’Neill, St Mary’s PS, Ballygawley; Belfast Area – Dana Jamison and Sharon McLintock, Dundela PS; South Eastern Area – Anice McDonald, Area Catering Supervisor and Jill Cairns, St Colmans HS, Ballynahinch; Western Area – Agnes Bustard, Edwards PS, Castlederg and Wendy Reid, Christ the King PS, Omagh, and the overall winners also won the North Eastern Area heat.
“I would like to congratulate all the entrants for the time and effort they put into producing some truly amazing creations and displaying the depth of talent that exists in school meals kitchens throughout Northern Ireland,” said NISCA chairperson Pamela Freeburn.
“The school meals service plays an important role in promoting a healthy lifestyle among our young people and catering staff serve up 160,000 meals to pupils every day. I would like to pay tribute to their hard work and dedication and also, as has been demonstrated through the Bake Off competition, to their talent and creativity.”
As well as the coveted NISCA Bake Off title, Yolanda and Pat received engraved cake stands and a two-night stay plus evening meal at Galgorm Resort and Spa. Prizes for the regional and overall winners were sponsored by Stephens Catering Equipment, Galgorm Group and Unilever.