BENTLEY Primary School chef Alison Dombrick was one of three ‘dinner ladies’ from the South East of England who went head to head in the live LACA School Chef of the Year regional finals.

And although on this occasion she didn’t win, the school is still “extremely proud” of her achievement.

A regional champion in 2014, and a South East finalist last year, Mrs Dombrick, 45, was up against some stiff competition in this year’s regional final.

Held at the Nestle headquarters in Gatwick on January 11, she battled it out against two other competitors, from Carshalton and Cranbrook. They were all challenged to produce four portions of a main course and a dessert suitable for serving five to 11 year olds in school within 90 minutes and with a maximum spend of £1.30 per single meal.

Competing with the blessing of Hampshire schools catering provider HC3S, Mrs Dombrick cooked red Thai chicken curry served with coconut infused white/brown rice and accompaniments, followed by a Popeye Brownie - a chocolate brownie with hidden vegetable with coconut and lime-infused custard - all tried, tested and approved of by the staff and children at Bentley Primary School.

While it wasn’t to be her year, according to headteacher Katy Pinchess, Alison’s cooking is still “the best” as far as everyone at Bentley Primary School is concerned.

“We are extremely proud of Alison for taking part in Chef of the Year competition. Although she didn’t win on this occasion, she continues to be a winner in the children’s eyes!”

And one Year 6 pupil added: “I really love Alison’s food and I will miss her cooking when I go to secondary school.”