Chef hoping to cook up a storm with national award

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CITY chef Aaron Gray is looking for his just desserts at the finals of a nationwide competition at a top London hotel tonight.

Aaron, 32, is the nursery chef at Newport Road-based Wavendon Pre-School and Day Nursery and is hoping his recipes of Moroccan lamb with Moroccan-style couscous and courgette and raisin muffins will wow the judges into awarding him the coveted Nursery Management Today Nursery Chef/Cook Award 2012.

Aaron said: “The finals cook-off has already taken place. There were five of us from nurseries all over the country who made it to the finals. It was just like being on Masterchef. We had an hour and fifteen minutes to prepare and cook the dishes and we had a TV camera crew up close and personal throughout.

“I was nervous but I tried to use that to my advantage. Luckily I was very pleased with the outcome – so now we just have to wait and see what happens on November 24 at the NMT Awards night in London.”

Aaron, who lives with his wife Madelaine in Bancroft, has worked as a chef at the nursery – owned by nationwide childcare group Asquith Day Nurseries – for the past eight years.

He said: “I have previously cooked at an old people’s home; at various restaurants and at industrial catering companies, but this job has been the best career move ever. I am truly passionate about it. There is no better feeling than watching all the children’s faces light up when they see what I have cooked fresh for them every day.”

But if Aaron was to win the award he knows he won’t be there to pick it up.

“I will be on holiday in the USA” he said. “I was due to go away earlier but I broke my ankle. When I rebooked I didn’t know I had made it to the finals. But our nursery manager Sara Deacon says she has bought a new frock and will be there on the night - just in case.”