A SALISBURY school chef beat off stiff competition to win a regional competition and make it through to the national final.

Jennifer Brown, who works for Atalian Servest and is based at Sarum Academy, was crowned the South West School Chef of the Year in the LACA School Chef of the Year Competition on Monday (January 13), which was held at Weston College in Weston super Mare.

She said: "I'm ecstatic, I feel very proud to have brought it back to Sarum.I'm really, really chuffed."

Against the clock and under the scrutiny of a panel of judges, Jennifer had one hour and 30 minutes to prepare and cook a two course meal suitable for serving to 11 year olds in primary or secondary schools within a set budget.

Her winning dishes were chicken and tarragon ravioli with lemon and garlic dressed carrot and courgette topped with parmesan, and for dessert a Black Forest brownie, topped with cheesecake and fruits of the forest.

Speaking about the experience of competing in the regional final, which took place in Weston super Mare, Jennifer said: "I enjoyed the experience 100 per cent. Although, the last 15 minutes were stressful."

On what she will take away from the experience, she added: "For me it is the memory of it, just to look back and know you gave it a go. Winning is a bonus. And meeting all the other chefs. There are amazing chefs up and down the country that work in schools. They do wonderful things with such small budgets day in and day out. Just being able to meet like minded people and see what they have to offer, and make my kids and husband proud. I've taken a lot away from it."

Jennifer, who has worked at Sarum Academy for three years, now goes on to compete against nine other regional champions plus two judges’ wildcard competitors in the national final on March 5, which is being held in Stratford Upon Avon.

"The competition is going to be a lot more fierce. But, I'm just chuffed I've even got that far,"she said. "I'm nervous, I'm going to try and stop thinking about it for a little while then I'm going to start practicing like mad again to try and get ready for it.

"It's so exciting."

Jennifer thanked Atalian Servest and Sarum Academy as well as friends and family for all their support, adding: "Thank you everyone for so much support.".

The 2020 champion will receive a £1000 cash prize and the LACA 2020 School Chef of the Year trophy as well as a work experience trip and an invitation to a calendar of high profile catering industry engagements.

The national second and third place winners will receive cash prizes of £500 and £300 respectively.