Care home Master Chef visits Le Manoir

A care home Head Chef was offered the chance to exercise his culinary skills at Le Manoir – Raymond Blanc’s two-Michelin starred restaurant in Oxfordshire.

Mervyn Knights, Head Chef at Queens Court, in Wimbledon is an accomplished chef working for Barchester Healthcare. Mervyn had the opportunity to work with the team at Le Manoir and work on all aspects of preparation, plating-up and adding those touches of finesse. The opportunity to visit Le Manoir came about because of Brian Lane, Head of the Barchester Chef Academy. Brian has a vast range of experience including working on super yachts in the South of France for famous names, being a stagiaire at the Fat Duck and Le Manoir, and also in training others. He has a passion for food which is matched with his passion for developing the skills of Barchester’s care home chefs.

Mervyn Knights who has been trained by Brian and now trains other Barchester chefs, said: “At Le Manoir, I prepared everything you can imagine, from vegetables, fish and meat, to stocks, bisques and used techniques like curing. I discovered how to present classic portions and all the elements that went in to creating delicate bite-sized appetisers just blew my mind.

“It was an honour to work with the team and I couldn’t believe we got the chance to meet Raymond Blanc, too. It was apparent that hard work, dedication and passion is what drives each member of the team, guided by Executive Head Chef Gary Jones.

To ensure the people at Barchester homes are consistently served great dishes, aChefAcademyhas been created to offer continuous training and development to all kitchen staff throughout the company. Working with celebrity TV Chef Paul Rankin, training programmes have been devised, including apprenticeships and master chef classes. 

Brain Lane, Head of the Chef Academy, said: “I organised the week’s placement so that Mervyn could see a different side to catering and bring some of the experience gained back to theQueens Courtcare home. Working in a new environment often sparks creativity and everything Mervyn was taught will be translated back into the care settings he is passionate about working in.”

Shaaron Caratella, General Manager at Queens Court care home, said: “We have superb cuisine and a remarkable amount of choice. Our hospitality team is flexible and understand that people’s taste can sometimes change from day-to-day. Our Chef spends a lot of time preparing menus and liaising with carers to make sure residents have what they want and what they need nutritionally.”

This year seven chefs have reached the Barchester Care Awards cook-off and will battling it out in the kitchens of Birmingham City University Campus overseen by judge Paul Rankin.  The winner will be announced on 13 June at an awards ceremony at Coombe Abbey. Mervyn has won the title of 'Chef of the Year' before.