Hailsham care home chef cooks up a storm in his first entry to a competition

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A talented chef could be in with a chance of winning a national cooking competition.

Paul Bird, 37, works at care home Bowes House in Hailsham, and is one of 120 chefs battling to win the title of Care UK Chef of the Year 2013.

Paul has cooked his way through quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals and is now looking forward to a gala dinner on Thursday (November 14) when the winner will be announced.

Paul said: “If my name is called I will be very happy but I am already proud to have been one of four people in the final. The experience has been incredible.”

It is the first time Paul has entered a competition.

Paul started with simple fare for the quarter final preparing a fisherman’s pie and a chocolate fondant but realised more was required for the semi-final so put his own twist on a chicken wellington with diced roast potatoes and other fresh vegetables, finishing with a banoffee pie.

For the final he pushed the boat out with fillet of cod wrapped in Parma ham on lemon and parsley potato puree and butternut squash. There were also baby carrots and a mussel and tarragon butter cream sauce.

He also created three miniature puddings, a strawberry and vanilla cheesecake, chocolate orange torte and banoffee pie.

Paul, who lives with his wife Suzi and two children Isla, 15, and Neve, three, has previously worked in pubs, restaurants and hotels but he said he was happier now than he had ever been. The care home in Hailsham offers residential, nursing, respite and specialist dementia care for older people.

Paul added: “The building is brand new, the staff are new, the residents are new and this makes for a very special atmosphere.”

Bowes House manager Alison Barnes said Paul had commissioned his own kitchen, hand-picked his own staff and was full of ideas. She reckoned his speciality was cakes. “He might dispute that but none of us are losing any weight!”