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Professional Comment

Care Home Commercial Kitchens – Central to the Operation

One of the real pleasurable parts of our job here at The Carer is covering the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) Care Chef of the Year.

Sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Cooks and Premier Foods, the NACC Care Chef of the Year competition highlights the care catering sector and the talented, qualified chefs operating within it. Entrants are challenged to create a nutritionally-balanced, two-course menu (main and dessert) that is suitable for service users in a care setting. The combined food cost for both courses must be no more that £2.25 per head based on four portions and it is to be produced in just 90 minutes. We have in recent years been astounded at the quality and presentation chefs have achieved in such a limited budget. So, it would be fair to say that the kitchen is very heart of a care home!

A good diet, both in terms of health and general wellbeing, is paramount, and as such, food must appeal to the broadest spectrum of people whilst delivering on nutrition. Similarly, with ever increasing emphasis on hygiene, especially important where vulnerable people are concerned, food needs to be cooked and stored in accordance with current legislation.

An almost 24-hour demand for catering and foodservice means that equipment must be user friendly and be capable of providing a varied food and beverage menu that includes nutritious hot and cold meals throughout the day.

Due to the vulnerability of residents living in a care home environment and precise food safety and hygiene requirements, equipment used by this market must meet stringent guidelines around temperature, storage and sanitisation, and disposal.

As care home providers grapple with rising costs and controls on public funding it is vital that an effective catering model needs to be at the heart of every set-up. Reliability, consistency and flexibility are crucial buying criteria for an industry producing large numbers of fresh, nutritious, and complex meals, catering for residents with differing dietary or even religious requirements, often within set timeframes, throughout the day.

Therefore, as demand and demographics have changed, so too have the catering equipment requirements of the residential and nursing care home sector. And with food quality, flavour and nutrition rising to the top of the agenda, kitchens are central to the whole operation!