She’s had plenty of practice in cooking for the masses, and now Amanda Phillips can show off her creativity.
As head cook at Bentley High Street Primary School, Amanda, 42, conjures up an average 340 meals a day.
She is used to pressure, and her pupils are cheering her on as she enters a bake-off battle to find the Yorkshire and Humber School Chef of the Year 2016.
Mum of two Amanda, of Cantley, trained in catering within the RAF, and was the first chef to be employed at Bentley High Street in its brand new kitchen that opened two years ago.
She entered the top dinner lady competition to up the profile of her “great’ school, she said, and made it through the kitchen heats to the regional cook-off that could see her in a national final in March of this year.
She has her menu all prepared, in the form of Chicken and Sweet Potato Bobo, a Brazilian smooth stew using ingredients such as coriander, jalapenos, ginger and garlic to full effect, with mango panacotta and coconut cocadas for sweet, served with a fresh fruit salad.
It is all made more difficult as the healthy two-course meal that should appeal to 11-year olds must cost no more than £1.60 per meal, and has to be produced from scratch in one-and-a-half hours.
Amanda explained: “I think we eat with our eyes so I’ve chosen dishes that appeal with looks and colour as well as taste. My theme is the Brazilian Rainforest linked with next year’s Olympics and I’ve made the most of Brazilian natural foods such as nutmeg and coconut. Youngsters love Chicken Bobo and I’ll enjoy preparing it.”
She does admit to having some nervous “jelly in her belly” about the regional heat in Gateshead against Kath Breckon from Whitby.
The competition is seen as a flagship event for school chefs to showcase their professional flair.