The national competition to create dishes for the nursery group's Winter 2014 menu held was held at The Cooking School at Dean Clough in Halifax.
Marc King, a chef for 12 years, won first place in the dessert category for his summer berry brioche pudding with cream and pureed raspberries.
He agreed with Busy Bees’ new national approach towards more organic produce in children’s’ meals, saying that it is ‘important for them to understand where food comes from’.
As the chef for nursery children in Busy Bees’ Brough setting, Mr King said he engages personally with the children about cooking, and that they perhaps view him as a ‘role model’.
Mr King said the children are encouraged to ‘talk a lot about where each ingredient comes from. They tell me before I ask.’
Claire Morrison's lemon and coriander hummus with whole meal garlic flatbread and ginger and courgette chutney won the prize for best starter, representing the Busy Bees nursery in Edinburgh Newhaven.
The competition reflects Busy Bees’ effort to promote healthy eating across their nurseries, and this year Busy Bees was awarded the Silver Food for Life Award by the Soil Association for serving meals that are healthy and good for the environment.
Judges included Caron Longden from the Soil Association and the managing director and founder of Busy Bees, Marg Randles (below right, with Ms Morrison). Ms Randles said, ‘It’s always been very important to us that every child in our care receives the best, most nutritious and absolutely delicious food possible’.
Busy Bees hosted the competition across all of its 238 nurseries in the UK, with only 16 chefs making it to the final, competing to create the best in starters and desserts. Busy Bees have recently introduced starters to their nursery menus, and senior catering manager Mel Fox explained the decision as a desire to encourage children to ‘embrace many wonderful tastes and textures’. Competition winner Mr King said he thought the introduction of starters a ‘good idea. [The children] do enjoy it.’
This summer’s ‘Starters and Desserts’ competition follows last year’s ‘Sensational Soup’ contest which was held at The Carnarvon Arms Hotel, a venue made famous by its celebrity chef owner Marco Pierre White. The winners from both competitions received £500 worth of kitchen equipment, while also having their dishes served to more than 20,000 of the Busy Bees’ nursery children.