Meet our Head Chef, Claire Thomas
Hi, my name is Claire and I'm the Head Chef here at the Hawthorns.
My passion and love of food started when I was young, my mother and father have eclectic and adventurous tastes and this was reflected in my home life. Never one for just plain food, I cooked up Italian, Thai and other dishes on a regular basis. Holidays also provided an insight to food and culture which I then brought back and tried out, my favourites being Australian, Russian and Egyptian. This led to a career in catering and a degree in Hospitality Management from Robert Gordon's University, Aberdeen. I have worked in a variety of hospitality environments, including the Caledonian Thistle Hotel, Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities, within the fine dining team cooking for Prince Phillip, Puccino's Cafe Bar and now here at the Hawthorns where I have been for the last 15 years!
Food and Nutrition at our home
Our menus are composed of only the best fresh produce and cooked to the highest quality, with aims for the natural aroma and taste to be retained as best as possible. A great deal of care is taken to accommodate all dietary requirements, and our meals are always prepared with the likes and dislikes of residents taken into consideration. We can guarantee that there is something for everyone on our menu, which you can view 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'.