Our head chefs work as part of their home’s management team to deliver a holistic, personalised approach to care for each resident. They are a key and highly visible member of the leadership team and can often be found in the lounges chatting to residents about food. They know each resident’s dietary and dining needs and preferences and work with clinical and care colleagues to support residents with weight management.
While many of our head chefs, second chefs and kitchen assistants have joined us from leading hotels, restaurants and resorts, they continue to develop their expertise through a raft of sector-leading training. Courses include how to work with texture to modify food for residents who have dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) through to maximising flavour without adding salt, reducing sugar to cater to diabetic diets, fortifying food to add calories, plus advanced baking.
Our Head of Hotel Services is a real expert in this area and has produced several Care UK recipe books catering to texture modification.ReneHead Chef at Snowdrop House
We invest in the best and latest kitchen technology to support our teams to deliver innovation and flavour. One of the best tools we have is the Thermomix which enables our chefs to create a wide range of texture modified dishes as well as whizz up soups and even sweet treats!
Our chefs and kitchen teams are well respected in the care sector and the wider catering industry. We are part of Unilever’s #FairKitchens movement, which recognises talented and creative chefs and kitchen teams and celebrates the positive and supportive kitchen environments in which they work.
We already have a reputation as a great employer for catering teams, thanks to our respected training and development opportunities, and have even launched a chef academy to develop kitchen teams for our growing number of care homes.
Whether in the working hours we offer, the environment we create, or the way we live our values and respect our colleagues, Care UK is showcasing what a good catering environment looks like. We believe we’re setting the standard for catering professionals in the care sector.
Residents enjoy the opportunity to work alongside our kitchen teams to join in with Care UK competitions to bake the best Christmas cake or other themed creations. The collaboration between our chefs and residents always results in a range of fantastic, elaborate creations and some incredible artistry.
Residents love to get involved in all of the baking competitions that Care UK runs. We work together as a team, baking, creating decorations for cakes and enjoying the time together. When you see the residents enjoying the food and activities it drives you to be better.YavorHead Chef at Highmarket House
Choice is always front and centre in Care UK kitchens, and our head chefs work closely with residents to create personalised menus for each home. Our chefs welcome feedback from residents and are supported to learn new techniques and cooking methods to ensure residents needs and wishes are catered for.
As well as supporting our colleagues to gain recognised NVQ qualifications in catering, Care UK holds an annual Chef of the Year competition to encourage innovation and excellence. Our catering colleagues also enter regional and national competitions and awards to showcase their skills, and regularly win.
Rene Foreman, Head Chef at Snowdrop House in Hertfordshire and Yavor Dimitrov, Head Chef at Highmarket House in Oxfordshire, share what it means to be a Care UK chef and how their teams deliver engaging and enriching experiences for residents.
Catering for the individual
“I particularly enjoy developing menus to cater for diabetic needs. Of course, this means lower sugar recipes, but the challenge then is to ensure that the flavour is still there and find creative ways to achieve this. Residents are happy when they have a menu full of their favourite meals and there are plenty of food-based activities to get involved in. It is very rewarding to see them enjoying themselves and engaging with these events and mealtimes.” - Yavor
“We make a selection of snacks, cakes and biscuits every day from high calorie fudges, chocolate mousses, hydration drinks, coconut ice, honeycomb to fruits of the forest mousse as a fortified desert for dysphagia…this was so popular it is now a regular in our main menu.
We have an amazing piece of technology, the Thermomix. It has a memory for storing menu items and it can blend anything to a paste. It’s so easy to make a pea puree, soups, chocolate ganache or use the steamer. It really is the best bit of kit we have in the kitchen.” - Rene
A passion for food
“I’m passionate about everything. I’ve just rolled out some new menus, and I’m passionate about everything home-cooked from scratch, be that home-made cake, scones, everything. I’m a firm believer in listening to what residents want and discovering what foods they remember when they were growing up and would like to see on the menu.” - Rene
I love getting feedback from residents. It’s fascinating to know what residents liked to cook for their families, husbands, wives and children.ReneHead Chef at Snowdrop House
“I’m passionate about all food! I have recently introduced another new idea; when a resident is our ‘resident of the day’ I will create their favourite dish and treat them as a VIP for the day. This dish will also become the ‘special’ on our menu so all residents can choose to enjoy it too if they wish.” - Yavor
Food as an event
“I’m a big believer in lots of flavours in food (but not spices for residents). I like to keep it simple for them, like to see them tasting the food and then get the feedback from them. Taking time to talk to them about the food and seeing the enjoyment on their faces is great. I’m currently looking at something big for the VE day celebrations this year.
Snowdrop House has an outdoor kitchen, a big BBQ style area. I feel really lucky to have this in my home and very honoured. We used it so much last summer and the residents all had smiles on their faces. They loved being outside and enjoyed burgers and different fish dishes. I have a great team working with me and we all pitch in together.
At the moment we’re making an ice cream cart for the summer. We’ll be offering ice creams, sweets, pots of fruit and fresh cakes every day. We often fortify and modify these treats as we can increase their calorific or hydration value, both of which can be very important to people in later years.” - Rene
We celebrate food from around the world, be it a barbeque menu or a Hawaiian theme. My team is always aiming to deliver more activity-based food experiences.YavorHead Chef at Highmarket House
“We have lots of activities, such as a cart with ice cream and cakes in the afternoons. On Wednesdays and Fridays we create a street food event in our coffee shop, where residents can come along, enjoy the food and have a chat and a laugh together. These are the most exciting and rewarding parts of my week. Everyone really enjoys it." -Yavor
Making a difference
“The individual approach to residents’ needs makes a huge difference. When we cater for dysphagia, how you make something look before it was texture modified can be very challenging, but when you see the residents’ faces when they receive it, it is great to see them recognise it.” - Rene
“I joined the care sector as it is always developing. Working at a restaurant or hotel you see customers come and go, in a care home there is more challenge as you need to get to know each resident and appeal to them. It makes my job very interesting, as I can make a difference to residents every day. Every occasion is important. Everything at our home is fantastic and it’s a very good team.” - Yavor