A first-time chef has battled through to a place in the finals of a national care home cooking competition and now he is sharpening his knives and honing his recipes as he prepares to represent his Ascot home.
Emilio Pascucci, second chef at Care UK’s Larkland House care home, will be representing the region in a national competition, open to Care UK’s 114 residential and nursing homes, for the title of Chef of the Year.
After winning through the local rounds of the competition, planning menus against a budget, Emilio secured his place in the Masterchef-style final, which will took place on Thursday 23 October at Unilever’s headquarters in Leatherhead, Surrey.
Emilio has been working at the London Road home since he left education and he would recommend care home catering to any aspiring chef. He said: “I have been here six years and learnt a great deal. We need to create tasty and well-presented food that satisfies the dietary, medical and nutritional requirements of a group of people with a range of conditions and needs.
“Food is a vital part of a person’s character and wellbeing, so we strive to make meals that taste good and that are what the residents want. We spend a lot of time talking to residents about what food they have enjoyed and what they would like on the menu.
“They particularly like traditional British cooking, but our themed nights are very popular. So far we have had Nigerian, Chinese, Italian and French evenings and we are planning more as they are so well received.”
Danielle Plant, regional sales manager, said: “We have a great kitchen team who support each other as well as their colleagues and residents in the home.
“Nothing is too much trouble. We hold free seminars at the home to support carers in the community and Emilio and the team always provide lovely lunches and refreshments. They also help in the home’s charity fundraising initiatives.
“Emilio is very caring and always spends time talking to the residents, learning their likes, dislikes and their needs. I’m very proud that he has reached the finals.”
Emilio will be hoping to wow the judges with a menu of butterfly chicken wrapped in Parma ham and stuffed with cream cheese, served with fondant potatoes and sautéed courgettes, followed by a trio of desserts.
Jon Bicknell, Care UK’s Residential Care Service’s food and services director and head judge, said: “As people get older, their appetites may become smaller but that makes it even more important to create tempting food that is packed with key nutrients.
“Judges at the cook-off will be looking at presentation, texture, nutritional value and the use of ingredients and, of course, the flavour. I know, using the first rounds as a benchmark, that we will see an exceptionally high standard in this cook-off.”
The winner of the competition will be announced at the Residential Care Services Gala dinner on Thursday 20 November.