Care UK chef of the year awards

The food and dining awards for 2019 have recently been presented to teams and individuals working in Care UK’s 120 homes.

Runner up last year, Alex Wendling, head chef at Lennox House, was named Chef of the Year 2019. The judges said that Alex continues to go from strength to strength in his delivery of excellent food for residents in the London home.

Alex Wending says: “I was delighted when my name was called. I grew up and trained as a chef in France. I then moved to Sweden and worked in catering there before moving to the UK and I think this has enabled me to bring a wide ranging experience to the home.

“Our home is wonderfully diverse and I think I have been able to use the knowledge I gained working in kitchens around London and beyond before joining Care UK, to create not just appetising choices, but also multi-cultural dishes that reflect the tastes and cultural heritage of our residents.

His winning menu was a main course of succulent stuffed chicken thighs served with dauphinoise potatoes and winter vegetables followed by a rich dark chocolate filo tart served with rum and vanilla mascarpone.

The three runners up in the Care UK Chef of the Year awards were: Alex Millichamp from Chandler Court in Bromsgrove, Deborah Moran from Davers Court in Bury St Edmunds and Yavor Dimitrov from Highmarket house in Banbury.

The Chef of the Year cook offs took place during the summer and autumn of 2019 and were judged by experts in the hospitality sector and Care UK directors. Care UK has over a hundred care homes – each with at least one highly skilled chef.

The award for Best Dining Experience went to the team at Mountfitchet House near Stansted in Essex, which had also been nominated for the second year in a row. Judges said the Mountfitchet House team continue to deliver a luxury dining experience with a personal touch.

They praised the atmosphere and presentation of the dining rooms, which they said were welcoming and they applauded colleagues for encouraging residents to take their time to enjoy both the food on offer and the social engagement.

Home manager Allison Squire says: “The team involve the residents in designing the menu, which I know everyone really appreciates. They present our residents with fully prepared and appealing meals, so they can look forward to mealtimes knowing that the food not only looks and tastes delicious, it also enhances their health and wellbeing.

“Delicious, home cooked food is a key ingredient for enjoying life in the home and our chefs prepare meals made from the very best ingredients. We cater for all tastes, diets and cultural requirements and there’s always plenty of choice. We also love an excuse for a celebration, so they also create special menus and treats for calendar events such as Easter and Christmas, Chinese New Year or even Halloween.”

The chief executive of Care UK’s care home service, Andrew Knight, says: “I never cease to be impressed by the dedication people show in order to support the 7000 residents in our homes, whether that is as carers, chefs, maintenance teams or so many others.

“These awards are our way of recognising the empathy, dedication and success of care home teams and an important way for us all to say thank you to so many incredible teams and individuals.”