Hospitality Meets Hospital Catering at the Wessex Salon Culinaire Event 2024

On Thursday 16 May chefs from NHS hospitals from across the south competed in the Wessex Branch – Hospital Caterers Association Salon Culinaire challenges – with industry chefs judging their final entrant.

It was a great day with attendance from hospital chefs from across the south, including Bristol, Isle of Wight, Hampshire Hospital, Southern Healthcare, Salisbury, Gosport and Sussex.

Caroline Benjamin, the coordinator for the event was tasked with sourcing an alternative venue as their usual venue,  Bournemouth & Poole Catering College is currently being refurbished. Newlyns Cookery School was a great option due to its location and that they also sell local farm produce, which contestants were able to select for Class 2, Ready Steady Cook.  The Wessex Branch are looking to return to Bournemouth in the future to enable students to participate and work alongside hospital caterers to promote a healthcare catering as a career path.

Ronnie Parrett-Harris, Chairman of the HCA Wessex Branch – highlighted It was an outstanding event. Newlyn’s cookery school was an amazing location. The Wessex Branch Salon Culinaire is an annual event where Hospital chefs have been given the platform to showcase their skills and compete with other likeminded chefs. This is a great opportunity for them to step out of their normal surroundings and compete and produce high quality food. We hope this event will give the chefs a buzz to enter more competitions such as The NHS Chef of the year competition.

It was a great day, a massive congratulations to everyone who took part. The standard of what was produced on the day was first class! We would like to thank all the fantastic judges who volunteered their time, the mentors for supplying the winner prizes of shadow days and everyone who attended and supported the event.  Special thanks to Caroline Benjamin who pulled the entire event together. You smashed it out of the park, taking the competition to the next level!

Supporting Charity

We were pleased to support Sophie’s legacy charity, thanks to Charlotte Fairall for hosting the raffle. It was such a moving moment on the day when Sophie’s story was told.

Charlotte statedWe are deeply grateful to the HCA Wessex Branch for choosing Sophie’s Legacy as their charity to support and for their incredible effort in raising £675. It was a brilliant day filled with enthusiasm and generosity, and we appreciate everyone who contributed to making it such a success, and the amazing prizes including a night at Chewton Glen, Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych and at Lainston House Hotel.”

The Main Events

There were three live classes covering Curries, Ready Steady Cook and butchery and presentation of the classic Sauté Chicken Chasseur dish where the ingredients were the identical, but the final dishes were all different in taste and presentation.

In addition, we had four static classes, where chefs produced two fruit tartlets, a trio of desserts and trio of tapas and finally the traditional ‘time for pie’ which saw a variety of different pies with stunning examples.

The standard and quality that was produced challenged the judges when marking with some scoring very close to the knuckle for several of the classes.

Nick Vadis, Culinary Ambassador – NHS Supply chain Food Lead judge on one of the teams stated.

“As a judge on the day and it was great to see, the skill and energy of the NHS Chefs pushing themselves in the competition arena.  All competitors are a credit to their trusts raising the profile of the great work that goes on in out NHS Kitchens”.

Having industry judges from hotels, and food development encouraged the participants to push to their limits, competing with each other for the great mentor prizes.

It was great to see Dominic Teague from One Aldwych, John Feeney from Griffiths Foods and Phil Yeomans of Lainston House all offering different perspectives when judging the dishes presented, alongside NHS chefs Phil Shelley, Nick Vadis and Wayne Harris.

These types of events offer NHS chefs a day when they can showcase their artistic skills and also is great for moral building and broadening their horizons.  The mentor shadow days on offer will also be great CPD opportunities, where knowledge and experience from both the mentor and mentee can be shared.

Phil Yeomans, Executive chef Lainston house I had the pleasure of judging on the day, it was great to see the individuals from the NHS trusts cooking, really nice to see their passion and pride for their dishes. Some outstanding personal dishes full of flavour and textures presented nicely. The judging was very tight and the competition so close. Everyone delivered on the day and should be very proud of their efforts. I look forward to a mentor day with one of the winners.


The winners can be viewed on the attached document, alongside the mentors and sponsors for each category.


Iain Robertson – National Chair of the HCA, stated on the day of the competition I acted as judge coordinator for four of the classes. The standard of the entries were exceptional, and the professionalism of the judges was fantastic. There was a real buzz around the place, and it was clear that everyone involved enjoyed themselves.

Phil Shelley Senior Operational Manager at NHS England. “It was a pleasure to be a judge at the Wessex HCA Branch Salon Culinaire at Newlyn Farm Shop Culinary School, the skill and finesse from our healthcare chefs proves that we have the ability to drive positive improvement in NHS food services and be ambitious with our menu choices”.