Northern Ireland duo take ‘best in class’ in HCA 4 Nation’s Showcase


Darren Taggart and Angela Dickson from NHSCT Causeway Hospital (Northern Trust) won Silver to finish top of the class in the HCA 4 Nation’s Showcase which took place within Salon Culinaire during HRC yesterday (March 25).

In all, seven teams* took part in this event, which celebrates and showcases the talent of NHS chefs. The challenge is to cook and serve three courses (two portions of each course) in just one hour to a budget not exceeding £6 per head. In addition, in this year’s event, one dish had to be plant-based, the main course had to be nutritionally balanced and the dessert had to be fruit-based. In addition, the judges were looking for dishes and presentation that could be adaptable for a standard NHS patient menu, including choice of crockery.

Other criteria included demonstrating a high level of hygienic working practice, and giving consideration to sustainable procurement and food waste.

In addition to the Causeway duo, Dylan Lucas and Darby Hayhurst from East Lancs were also awarded Silver, with the other five teams awarded Bronze.

Not only was the event judged by some top chefs and industry professionals - with a different specialist judge allocated to each course - it was also watched over by Bake-Off’s Prue Leith who has shown a consistent and supporting interest in the standard of hospital food and the development of NHS chefs since her involvement with the Hospital Food Review, and Michelin-starred Lisa Goodwin-Allen, 2024 Chef Ambassador for the overall HRC event and guest judge for NHS Chef 2023. 

Commenting during the event, Prue said: “I just think your chefs are amazing,” and Lisa added: “Open your mind. It wasn’t until I got involved with NHS Chef last year that I started to become aware of the challenges, and the dietary requirements you have to meet. I am honoured to be part of this.”

Nick Vadis, Chef Ambassador NHS Supply Chain, summed it up, saying: “Anything that lifts the profile of NHS chefs is a win win.”


* Competing teams

James Dougan and Alan Dougan (last year’s ‘Best in Class’ chefs), Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland

Dylan Lucas and Darby Hayhurst (2023 NHS Chef winners), East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, England

Erica Bell and Shelley Pearson-Smith (2022 NHS Chef winners), Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, England

Laila Dartington and Ryan Corbett, Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, England

Connor Gutsell and Glen Stone, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, England

Shane O’Neill and Gemma Bell, South Eastern Trust, Northern Ireland

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