Kath Breckon works for North Yorkshire County Caterers at Westcliff Primary School in Whitby. She tells us about her spicy beef, presenting at Westminster, and her mission to get more children involved in food…
Why did you enter the competition?
My manager, Sharon Armstrong, won in 2004 and this really inspired me. I actually made it to the national finals in 2010, 2011 and 2014, which spurred me on to go all the way!”
How was the experience for you?
I absolutely loved it. I’ve met so many wonderful people over the years who have been an amazing support, and have really motivated me to get better as a chef.
People say you can’t bottle my passion and the competition was the perfect outlet for me to share my love of cooking and getting kids interested in food and where it comes from. It’s given me so many ideas. I like to encourage the children to get very hands on and we do a lot of themed days to bring the food to life. We even took them fishing the other day and then showed them how to prepare, fillet and smoke their catch.
What was your winning menu?
My menu was a year in the making! The school were doing a project on Whitby Abbey, looking at what the monks used to eat, what local ingredients they used and how they cooked. This inspired my menu of St Hilda’s Spicy Beef Pot followed by Dracula’s Bat-Tastic Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Compote. I wanted to design a menu that was tasty, fun and one that the children would want to cook themselves.
What does winning mean to you?
I don’t even know where to begin. It’s been an incredible year, packed with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and I’ve tried to grasp every opportunity with both hands.
A big highlight for me was the speech I gave at Westminster as part of the School Food Plan Alliance, then serving lunch at the House of Commons – not something you do every day!
I’ve also had the pleasure of presenting and running workshops at numerous food festivals such as Scarborough Food Festival and Whitby Winterfest, and I’ve taken part in loads of media interviews – I was even on the One Show the night before the National Final!
Throughout the whole process, I’ve met and worked with so many inspirational people and the team at school have supported me all the way. More and more, people are now aware of what’s involved with school catering and that has to be a positive thing.
Why should other school chefs enter the competition?
For me, it comes down to passion. The competition has fuelled my enthusiasm for the job and has given me the confidence to do more and to keep up the fight for school food. It’s a really respected competition that opens so many doors. I’m now a member of various working groups and have the opportunity to work with LACA on future initiatives.
What tips do you have for chefs entering next year?
Firstly, know what you want to do. It’s always useful to have a clear goal from the outset. And encourage the children to taste your menu and give their feedback. At the end of the day, it’s about feeding children and how you would incorporate your dishes into the school menu, so this is vital.
Don’t forget to bring the story of your dish to life and make it colourful and attractive on the plate. And finally, practice, practice, practice – I can’t say this enough!
See the full video of Kath's insight into the SCOTY competition and why you should enter this year: