Essential Cuisine has been working with the chefs at award-winning charity St Andrew’s Healthcare to promote the benefits of diet and nutrition in caring for those with mental health issues.
As part of its #Cheflife video series, which takes a fly-on-the-wall look at chefs and their brigades in different sectors, Essential Cuisine is focusing on the work of Gareth Waters, Head of Restaurants & Catering, and his dedicated team at the state-of-the-art specialist mental care facility in Northampton.
With a background in the restaurant and hotel industry, Gareth, alongside his team, has been successful in turning the output of the kitchens from a cook-chill service of ready meals, to a fully fresh ‘from scratch’ catering operation. The end result has seen a jump in patient satisfaction from 50% to 85% and given St Andrew’s clinical teams the peace of mind that they can to concentrate on the business of care safe in the knowledge that poor nutrition will never be an issue. In 2016 the efforts of the charity were rewarded as it scooped Healthcare Caterer of the Year during the Foodservice Cateys.
Gareth said: “One of the biggest challenges we face in the mental healthcare sector is that patients often come to us having experienced generally poor diets in the past, so they’re used to unhealthy or fast food. It’s about trying to wean people off food like that and encouraging them to eat a healthy, balanced diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables – food is so important to care, and our patients deserve the best.”
St Andrew’s has been working with Essential Cuisine on its drive for excellence in food. The Stock People’s chef team has been supporting Gareth and his team for the past two years on advising the right stock products to help him keep menus nutritionally sound.
Gareth continues: “Originally, one of the main reasons we switched to Essential Cuisine was because their products had a much lower salt content than the previous brand that we were using, and part of our mission was to lower the salt that we put into food. The consistency of their stock is brilliant – because it’s a powder you can use the scoop and you know that you’re getting exactly the right quantities into your recipes. That also gives you better cost control alongside the obvious health benefits.”
He adds: “It’s so important to try and keep our patients interested in the food they eat, many of them have restricted access so their days are often focused around mealtimes, meaning it’s a very important part of the day to them. Most people are pretty passionate about food and so we really try to accommodate everyone as much as we can – the support we get from Essential Cuisine in achieving this is fantastic.”