Meet our Head Chef, Sharon Pearson
I joined Ashford House as Head Chef in 2015, having previously worked for several large catering organisations. I wanted to be able to focus my skills on providing for a smaller group of people with varying needs.
I am responsible for managing the kitchen budget as well as my kitchen team, which comprises a 2nd and 3rd chef and 4 kitchen assistants.
My primary focus is to ensure high quality, nutritious, appetising meals are provided for our residents, using fresh, seasonal produce as much as possible. There are many different dietary needs amongst our residents and I enjoy working with families to ensure their loved ones’ nutritional needs are fully addressed whilst, at the same time, providing them with their favourite foods.
My kitchen team and I know how important food safety, hygiene and cleanliness are in the kitchen environment, and I am proud of achieving excellent results in all inspections, by both in-house and external auditors.
I encourage my kitchen team members to take advantage of courses offered by Barchester to improve their skills in order to enable them to further themselves.
Food and Nutrition at our home
It is essential that the people we support have access to healthy food at all times, so our fantastic catering team are always on hand to prepare tasty and nutritious cuisine. Our food is always cooked to highest standard and with residents’ preferences always in mind. The importance of a balanced diet is never forgotten here, so we offer a varied menu that has something for everyone to enjoy, which you can sample below:
For residents that have difficulties in swallowing we modify the menu of the day so that is it a soft, palatable dish. To support our chefs in producing these dishes, our hospitality and Chef Academy organises theory and practical workshops. Working in partnership with Nutricia, our practical workshops involve all chefs and deputy managers learning about dysphagia and producing these modified menus. The chefs work with the chef trainer to prepare fork mashable and thick puree meals to the correct consistency, taste and presentation. The deputy managers can then ensure all modified menus served are presented correctly for our residents.
Attracting top chefs
Our chefs are recruited on the basis of an interview with the regional hospitality support team and the manager for the home. Selection also involves a practical element where potential cooks are asked to cook for and meet a panel of people living in the home. Chefs take their job extremely seriously and our annual Chef competition sees our chefs battle it out in regional heats and then at a national final for the accolade of 'Barchester's Chef of the Year'.