TASTING SUCCESS; Team take food prize.
Darlington College became the venue for the Hotelympia regional heat of a UK-wide competition designed to hone the skills of health kitchen staff.
Teams from Darlington Memorial and North Tees hospitals had just 40 minutes to prepare a culinary delight from ingredients that cost no more than pounds 1.90 a portion.
Their working practices and two course creations were judged by Darlington College catering tutors and celebrated chefs Becci Dougill and Stuart Hill.
The team from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust clinched the honours on the day with a menu of cauliflower, broccoli and potato soup, followed by chicken breast in tomato, green beans and duchess potatoes.
Judges considered this a slightly healthier option than North Tees and Hartlepool Trust's offering.
Chefs Richard Kirton and Ian Cannon offered pan fired Moroccan chicken with jewelled cous cous and spiced apricot puree, followed by banana and caramel tart with a rich chocolate sauce and creme fraiche.
Becci said: "It was really good to see them using all their skills and it was a very close competition.
"Darlington won through in the end because of the health brief and their menu was simple to produce en masse and had reduced fat and sugar."
Both teams scored well and are now waiting to hear if they have qualified for the national finals in London in March.
WINNING MEAL: Clinching the honours, are Jill McLean, left, and Carolyn Marshall with, centre, judge Becci Dougill