Scottish School Meals | Assist Conference 2016
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Assist Conference 2016

Assist Conference 2016


The biggest ever ASSIST FM Conference took place in Glasgow 25-26th August 2016. Speakers at the seminars included Dr. Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, Josh Littlejohn, co-director of Social Bite, Phil Vickery, the Michelin-starred chef who gave a masterclass on gluten free cooking, and Colin Gregor, ex captain of Scotland 7’s rugby team.

There were 60 exhibitors and a new award for Council and supplier innovation, to tie in with the Conference’s theme of ‘The Year of Innovation’.

Two school pupil teams from Busby Primary and Stirling High schools also presented their school Better Eating, Better Learning food initiatives to the Conference.

The National Award winners were:

2016 ASSIST FM National Chair Award

Brakes Scotland

2016 ASSIST FM Cleaning Team of The Year

(sponsored by Unico)

New Cumnock Primary and Early Childhood Centre

East Ayrshire Council

2016 ASSIST FM Catering Team of The Year

(sponsored  by Green Gourmet)

Arran High School

North Ayrshire Council

2016 ASSIST FM School Crossing Patroller of the Year

Jean McPhillimy, Dreghorn  Primary

North Ayrshire Council

2016 ASSIST FM Scottish School Cook of the Year

(sponsored by Muller Milk Ingredients)

2016 ASSIST Conference


Maria Millar

East Lothian Council

2016 ASSIST FM Scottish School Cook of the Year

(sponsored by Muller Milk Ingredients)

Second Place

Mandy McAulay

Fife Council

2016 ASSIST FM Scottish School Cook of the Year

(sponsored by Muller Milk Ingredients)

Third Place

Paul Hodson

Scottish Borders Council

2016 ASSIST FM Council Innovation Award

East Renfrewshire Council

(School Holiday Feeding Programme)

2016 ASSIST FM Supplier Innovation Award

Unilever Food Solutions

(Gluten Free initiative)

This year’s ASSIST FM Scottish School Cook of The Year 2015 is Maria Millar of East Lothian Council. Maria beat off strong competition from 6 other school cooks from all over Scotland in the final of the competition. The competition took place at the Cook School Scotland in Crosshouse and was sponsored once again by Müller Milk Ingredients.

Maria is originally from Venezuela, but came to Scotland on holiday and has never left. Now the cook at Knox Academy in Haddington, her menu consisted of  Chicken Enchiladas with Coleslaw, and Strawberry Cheesecake. Maria used local Scottish carrots, onions, cabbage and mushrooms in the Enchiladas, and fresh Scottish strawberries, Scottish strawberry jam and cream

Each cook had to create a main dish and dessert within 90 minutes. A maximum of £1.60 was allowed for the cost of the meal and each cook had to comply with the primary based nutrient standards in The Schools (Health promotion and Nutrition Act) (Scotland) 2007 legislation, which is in force in all schools throughout Scotland.

All entrants were encouraged to use at least one item of Scottish produce in both the main course and dessert.

The competition was hotly contested. In third place was Paul Hodson of Scottish Borders Council. Runner up was Mandy McAulay of Fife Council.

Chairman of the judging panel, Joe Queen, said, ‘I wouldn’t miss this competition and was delighted to be asked to be involved for a sixth year.  The standard these school cooks produce within the constraints of budget and nutritional standards are quite remarkable.’

Alan Russell, from sponsor Müller Milk Ingredients, said, ‘the standard this year was excellent and it was a very difficult decision. Congratulations go to all the cooks who took part for putting up some superb meals.’

The whole conference was a great success, deemed to be the best ever by many attendees. David Cochrane CEO of HIT Scotland, said, ‘a huge thank you for a wonderful few days in Glasgow with the Assist team….. the whole thing is based on solid relationships. The buzz at the conference and the camaraderie at the Gala dinner certainly demonstrated all of this. The speakers at the conference were well chosen and informative….it really was a great few days’

2016 ASSIST ConferenceAlistair McIntyre, National Chair of ASSIST FM stated, ‘The ASSIST FM conference always provides a great opportunity to share ideas with colleagues from around Scotland.  This year we had a superb line up of speakers. We also showcased innovative ideas, from three councils and three suppliers, and we launched the redesigned Scottish School Meals website and introduced our local provenance Scot’s origin brand. A really successful conference that will be hard to beat next year …but we will try!’


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