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23 November 2021

STH Chefs reach finals in national NHS competition

A duo of Chefs from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have reached the finals of a new national NHS Chef competition.

Jason Horton and Iliya Valev have proved their culinary expertise in a competition held by NHS England and NHS Improvement, which highlights the importance of nutrition in hospitals and the skills and dedication of the chefs working in the NHS.

The competition involved teams of Chefs from across the country battling it out to create new exciting and delicious dishes within the usual budget, timings and presentation constraints of hospital catering. The nutritionally balanced meals produced by the finalists will then be included in a national Recipe Bank that can be replicated in hospitals, helping to bring consistency to the standard of catering across the NHS.

Jason Horton has worked for the NHS for three years and has been a chef at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals for two years. After starting as a catering assistant and working his way through the ranks in the kitchen, Jason’s motivation is knowing that he is contributing to the recovery of patients and is fuelling staff as they work. He says that his biggest career achievement so far has been helping other colleagues to develop their skills in the workplace.

Jason Said: “My highlight of the Chef 2021 experience was having the chance to meet colleagues from other NHS trusts and the sharing of ideas. One comment that I really took on board and I’ll remember is ‘food is medicine’.”

Iliya Valev is relatively new to the NHS, having started at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals in 2020, but is really enjoying the role so far and can’t wait to see what a career as a chef in the NHS will bring.

Iliya said: “‘Working as a chef in the NHS is an honour. NHS Chef 2021 was my first cooking competition. It was great meeting other professionals and I am so proud to have been made regional champion, allowing us to proceed to the next round. I would absolutely recommend a career as an NHS chef.’

Regional heats over the summer narrowed the competition down to seven teams of two chefs (one from each NHSEI region) including Jason and Iliya.

Emma Wilson, Head of Catering at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are extremely proud of Jason and Iliya for reaching the finals of the NHS Chef competition. Good nutrition and hydration is so fundamental to the care of patients in hospital, and our team have really demonstrated our commitment to ensuring the highest standard here at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.”

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