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:
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'.