FEB 2018: DESIGNING A MENU TO PLEASE ALL TASTES

Great Baddow

Mealtimes are a vital part of the daily routine at a Baycroft care home.

Good food is one of life’s great pleasures. And eating together with other residents is a time for communal enjoyment and relaxation.

Adam Broadway is the head chef at Baycroft’s home in Great Baddow, Essex. We spoke to him about a typical day’s menu and how he approaches mixing nutrition with great taste.

How long have you been with Baycroft?

The home at Great Baddow has recently opened so I’ve only just started too. My first day was 4 December 2017.

I started off my career, like most, as a commis chef in a restaurant. I worked my way up to chef de partie there before moving to a golf and country club as a sous chef. It was 15 years ago in 2003 that I moved into working in care homes.

How many people work in the kitchen at Great Baddow?

There are four of us in the kitchen currently. There’s our sous chef Andrew, two catering assistants plus me.

Andrew and I work together creating the menu. It’s an important task. The most important considerations are nutrition, balance and appeal. You should always try to meet everybody’s needs – and the more people you’re catering for the harder that gets.

Take us through a typical day’s menu

The day begins with either a continental breakfast, cereal, porridge or a cooked breakfast if that’s what the resident wants.

For each meal there’s a choice of two dishes and an alternative of salads, jacket potatoes or an omelette. Lunch might be a soup or salad with something vegetarian or protein-based and some seasonal vegetables. Dessert might be ice cream, fresh fruit or a yoghurt. In the evening, there’s soup, another hot meal or sandwiches followed by a choice of desserts. For example, Sunday lunch was soup or prawn cocktail to start, then roast beef with all the trimmings or roasted vegetable tart for the main course, finished off by eton mess or fruit salad.

What are the unique challenges of catering for an older demographic?

Cooking for older people isn’t more challenging than for any other demographic. Of course, everybody has different tastes, dietary requirements and needs. The difference is that at a care home I can get to know the residents. Knowing them on that personal level makes my job much easier and makes for a better eating experience for them too.

I like the residents to have as much input into the menu as possible. We have meetings with them to discuss menus and take all of their requests and recommendations on board. The same goes for meeting with families too – we’re happy to hear any ideas.

The menu changes on a four-weekly rotating basis so there’s plenty of scope for a wide range of meals.

Do residents ever cook for themselves?

Not for the regular meals but activity days where residents get involved are common. They’ll make cakes, biscuits, pizzas, that sort of thing.

What’s your favourite type of food to prepare?

We have some great equipment here so that really expands the possibilities of what we can make. Something fairly new to me is the sous vide where food is vacuum-sealed and then placed in a water bath/steam. Then you let it cook for longer than you would normally.

I’m really enjoying this method of cooking – the flavours you can add are amazing and the meat gets so tender. I also like making curries and enjoy doing theme nights.

We recently had Burns Night and cooked cock-a-leekie soup, haggis, neeps and tattie stacks with a whisky sauce. Cranachan for dessert, of course.

To find out more about our new home Baycroft Great Baddow, click here.

Adam Broadway