Solent chefs come third in national competition

It’s official! Our Portsmouth hospital chefs Jim Richardson and Joe Hennigan are among the cream of the crop.

The dynamic duo, normally based in the kitchens at St Mary’s Community Healthcare Campus, today (Thursday 3rd November) ended up third place in the prestigious NHS Chef 2022 competition held at The Cooking School in Warminster.

Jim and Joe had consistently impressed judges throughout the six-day final, which saw two-person NHS catering teams working together to prepare everything from three-course lunches to allergy-free options and low-cost suppers.

To get so far in the national competition was extra special for the pair as they had worked together for only a matter of months.

While Jim has worked in an NHS kitchen his entire working life, Joe was taken on as a catering assistant earlier this year and will soon be starting an apprenticeship to become a fully qualified chef.

The pair were encouraged to enter the competition by their line manager Iain Robertson, Catering Operations Manager at Solent NHS Trust, and himself a former NHS chef.

“The lads absolutely smashed it day after day but the competition was fierce,” said Iain. “I am so proud of them both and what they have achieved.”

Mark Young, Associate Director of Estates Transformation, said: “To be named in the top three best NHS chef teams in the country is absolutely incredible. This has exceeded all expectations and we are all so proud. Well done to them both.”

The pair had been inundated with messages of support from colleagues at Solent NHS Trust throughout the competition, which included practical sessions and a mentoring event.

Jim and Joe had won the judges’ hearts at the regional heat in London with their roasted butternut squash soup with chilli and lime, part of a three-course meal prepared with a budget of £5 a head.

The soup won the best vegetarian entry and, before they knew it, Jim and Joe were propelled straight into the competition finals.

As well as testing their cooking skills, the gruelling two-week finals were designed to challenge their catering knowledge and menu engineering.

Fancy trying Jim and Joe’s soup for yourself? Here’s their award-winning recipe!

Butternut Squash Chilli and Lime soup


1 large butternut squash approx. 1kg

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 large onion finely chopped

5g fresh chopped ginger

2 garlic cloves fresh crushed

1ltr vegetable stock

20ml soya milk

5g pumpkin seed

1 red chilli deseeded and finely chopped

5g fresh coriander

1 lime whole

Black pepper and rock salt for seasoning



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