Two cooks are going head to head to be named school chef of the year.

The Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA) School Chef of the Year 2018 competition is well underway, with seven of the ten regional heats completed.

School food providers across Britain are setting their sights on one of their employees becoming the country's next best education catering chef.

School chefs nationwide registered to take part in the 2018 competition, and Dorset has a good showing with Tracey Ford representing Caterlink and the Gillingham Comprehensive School and Christopher Plowman representing Local Food Links and Shillingstone Primary School near Blandford.

Following the first round of judging of entries on October 31-November 1, the two were among ten school chefs from the South West to get through to the second stage of the competition, the live regional final.

Tracey and Christopher will join the other chefs in aiming for the LACA South West School chef of the Year 2018, which is to be held on Tuesday, January 16 at St Katherine's School, Bristol.

The regional champions from these heats will be at the national final scheduled for Thursday, March 8 in Stratford upon Avon.

In additional to winning the trophy, the successful champion will win a £1000 cash prize, awarded a commemorative plaque, a work experience trip and an invitation to a number of high profile catering industry engagements between 2018-2019.

The second and third placed winners will receive cash prizes of £500 and £300 respectively.

Commenting at the start of the competition, LACA National Chairman Tim Blowers said: "Every year, this Competition allows us to demonstrate to the wider world both the professional expertise of today's school chefs and the excellent meals they prepare tirelessly every single day in schools across the country."

The competition, which has been running for over 20 years, sees chefs given a maximum of £1.30 to spend and just one and a half hours to prepare a healthy balanced two-course meal consisting of a main course and dessert, that would appeal to eleven year olds in school.

Jason Rodrigues, Category and Commercial Manager from contest sponsor MAGGI added: "This competition highlights that there's no shortage of skill and imagination in the country's school kitchens.

"Year-on-year, each chef demonstrates just what can be done on a tight budget and the results are remarkable- we wish each contestant the best of luck at this year's competition."