Tanya Watkin from Woodland Middle School Academy, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, has been named LACA School Chef of the Year 2014.
Watkins works for Eden Foodservice under contract to Central Bedfordshire Council. She beat nine other finalists after producing a balanced meal that would appeal to 11 year olds in an hour and a half at a cost of £1.60.
The judges were impressed with Watkin's winning dishes of Spanish Chicken Cocido - Chicken, vegetable and chickpea stew flavoured with saffron served with chorizo tortilla and rustic bread - and desert of Crema de Sant Josep - Madeleine sponge baked in citrus caramel egg custard served with orange, strawberry and mint salsa.
Watkin said: "I was so proud to have won the national title. With the skill amongst this year's finalists being so high, I felt it was an achievement in itself to compete with such a talented group of people. All of this just goes to prove what a good job school chefs do, day in, day out, up and down the country to provide tasty, nutritious meals for millions of children."
LACA national chair, Carrieanne Bishop added: "Parents and the wider community should be reassured that our talented front line staff in schools not only prepare tasty, highly creative dishes to tempt the taste buds of discerning children and young people but also nutritious school meals that make a major contribution towards altering eating habits, improving diets and decreasing obesity levels. The finalists and all of the contestants that have taken part this year should serve as a real inspiration for the food and beverage service in every school nationwide."
The winner of the Highly Commended Main Course prize was Shereene Weston from St Mary Magdalene's Catholic Primary School, Lewisham, won a highly commended for her main course of Sticky Kicky Chicken, spicy chicken thigh with roti bread, healthy slaw, sweet potato wedges and a pepper and lime salsa.
Meanwhile was Bridget McCulla from Jarrow School, Tyne & Wear won highly commended for her dessert, a Tropical Fruit Trio of a coconut infused steamed sponge pudding served with pineapple panna cotta and a warm mango sauce.
The Marketing Certificate of Merit went to Kate Davies from St Gwladys Primary School, Bargoed, Caerphilly.