Leigh Clifford

Food at Red Oaks Care Home

Meet our Head Chef, Leigh Clifford

I am aware mealtimes are a hugely important event in the day for our residents, so I endeavor to prepare, cook and present food from  seasonal menu that residents can enjoy. I lead a team of kitchen staff consisting of a 2nd chef, kitchen assistants and hostesses, whom I support in their roles and encourage to professionally develop. I work closely with the general manager, deputy manager and registered nurses to ensure we provide meals suitable for residents' differing requirements.

Red Oaks holds events for residents, relatives and the local community throughout the year, which almost involves catering. This is jointly organised with the general manager, activities coordinator and myself, and relies on effective team work by all the kitchen team to make a success of the event. I communicate daily with the general manager and visit residents in their own rooms regularly, or chat with them in the dining room, to ensure we are meeting their individualised needs and they are satisfied.

I am always happy to prepare food during special occasions for residents and their families, and we have previously catered for a wedding, birthday parties and funeral teas. Visitors to the home will find they have access to tea, coffee and my home baking, and many make use of this facility. 

I enjoy working at Red Oaks, as there is excellent communication between all departments, and I there is a great team spirit, where everyone helps when required

Food and Nutrition at Red Oaks

Food and drink are an important part of all our lives, and a particularly enjoyable experience for those who live at Red Oaks. Our team of experienced chefs and kitchen assistants ensure that every meal is not only delicious, but reflects each individual’s likes, dislikes and dietary needs. They also love creating cakes for birthdays and other treats for special occasions to make those events that little bit sweeter. Sometimes we’ll even throw on the barbecue and cook up a storm in the summer heat. To get a flavour of the menu we serve here, please see the examples below:

Breakfast time

Download sample menu

Try something different

Download sample menu

Dietary requirements

For residents who have difficulties swallowing, we modify the menu of the day so that the dishes are more palatable for them. To support our chefs in producing these dishes, our hospitality team and our Chef Academy organise theory and practical workshops. The chefs work with the chef trainer to prepare tasty, modified meals safely and according to IDDSI frame work. This encourages residents to eat and enjoy their food. All our chefs have been trained in IDDSI food descriptors.

Attracting top chefs

Our chefs are recruited on the basis of an interview with the regional hospitality support team and the manager of the home. Selection also involves a practical element, where potential chefs are asked to cook for and meet a panel of people living in the home. Chefs take their job extremely seriously and the annual Barchester 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'.