July 2020: Sabbi Gavrailov on Baycroft's hospitality plans


We spoke to Sabbi Gavrailov, our head of hospitality, to find out how technology is shaping the future of food and dining at Baycroft.

What’s your vision for hospitality at Baycroft?

Our plan this year is to focus on digitalising our kitchens. In February, we introduced an environmentally friendly kitchen management system called Saffron and have completely removed the use of paper in the kitchen. The system allows our chefs to personalise dietary plans and create recipes to be shared across our portfolio of homes.

The great thing about Saffron is it allows us to manage our kitchens sustainably and ethically. It shows that we’re compliant and consistent across Baycroft. It highlights allergens, nutritional values, methods of preparation for each meal—and it is essential for creating a healthy meal plan. This will help us improve the health of the residents at Baycroft.

How does Saffron help add nutritional value?

While Saffron will be used to improve general nutrition for all residents, it can also be used to create bespoke menus for people with specific needs. It can be used in conjunction with any nutritional advice and to tailor recipes to certain parameters such as calories, salt, and sugar content. In situations where meat is not recommended for a certain diet, it is very important to balance the protein intake using substitutes such as plant-based proteins, including beans, soy, and legumes. Saffron gives us the data to achieve this goal.

Are you experimenting with any new types of diet?

One of the chefs is looking at implementing plant-based meals. This is interesting because plants help to boost the nutritional value of a meal, which in turn leads to greater wellbeing among our residents. The tricky bit is trying to educate our residents about the benefits of good nutrition. You also need to talk to the families and carers, and help them understand the benefits­­—not just hand them a document to read.

There’s an added challenge when providing nutrition to people with specific ailments, like dementia. Some of our residents perceive food differently, and we need to keep that in mind. People with dysphagia have particular requirements, too. In 2019, we saw the updated International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) Framework that has eight different levels of textured and modified food. So, nutrition at Baycroft is not just about producing a great meal—it’s become part science. We aim to go a step further by personalising our menu for taste, presentation, and nutritional value.

Do you have any plans for your suppliers?

Last year was all about setting up a robust and sustainable supply chain. This year is about delivering added value. One way we’ll do that is by leaning into local produce. Our chefs are always alert for seasonal opportunities from the local producers, as it offers a fun interaction for our residents, and helps us to build relationships and support various communities. We change our menu four times a year, and we hope to represent the right food in the right season.

But our main aim is to make sure the supply chain is consistent, stable, and transparent. When Covid-19 kicked in, we had real concerns about whether we would see shortages. So, we developed contingency plans. If we need to stockpile, what do we need to stockpile? Our chefs did a great job and I hope that we are through the worst.

How did you respond to Covid-19?

Firstly, we tried to model the worst-case scenarios. We then developed a Hospitality Service Guideline. Getting that in place helped us to quickly introduce general preventative measures in the kitchen and dining areas and reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

We had to ask how Covid-19 was going to impact our ability to provide hospitality to the required standard. Every operational area presented a challenge of some form. We had to restructure teams, adapt menus, change service routines, review standards, reconsider nutrition management. It would have been impossible if it were not for our strong team dynamic. Usually, you could look at the Food Standards Agency for guidance. With Covid-19, we had to go the extra mile and dig deep to ensure the safety of our residents.

What is your plan for the future of Covid-19?

We’re looking to find a balance between being proactive and reactive. Government plans change weekly, so we need to respond to their guidance while trying to forecast what could happen. But our team is optimistic. We hope that people will follow government advice and that we will quash this pandemic, though we also have to be realistic and prepare where possible.

If we begin to allow families to visit, it will be well-coordinated to ensure the compliance is in place. The last thing we want to do is compromise health. Whether we bring back families to enjoy food together in the garden or from a balcony, we will try to accommodate it as safely as possible. Our residents suffer enough from not seeing their families—the least we can do is serve them a great, memorable meal every day.