As part of the Taste of Gracewell campaign, which celebrates the healthy and nutritional food on offer across the homes, Gracewell of Frome’s Head Chef, Simon Lewis, describes his typical working week and shares with us what he most enjoys most about his job.
Describing my typical week as a chef here at Gracewell of Frome is a harder task than it might sound, mainly because a big part of what makes my job so exciting and enjoyable is how varied and diverse it is. For me and my team, no one day is ever the same; there’s always an exciting activity, event or function to prepare for, or a special request to organise.
What I can say is that I typically start each day at around 7am. I’m always up nice and early, preparing breakfast so it’s piping hot and ready to go, as residents rise for the day. Once breakfast is served, I set about getting the day’s meals ready, as well as juggling this with any birthday, social activities and functions we have planned. I usually finish the day by preparing supper at around 5:30pm, which also offers a chance to catch up with residents and find out a little more about their day.
On top of preparing regular meals for our residents to enjoy, there are also a number of special events which the dining team work hard to put on. For example, we often prepare a multi-sensory meal for residents on our memory care floor. This is typically themed around ‘a day at the seaside’, with fresh Fish & Chips served in boxes, wrapped with old style newspaper, whilst the soothing sounds of the sea is played in the back ground to evoke fond memories of trips to the seaside.
As head chef, another of my key responsibilities is to make sure the menu we offer accommodates the needs and special requests of all our residents. The key meal plan that my team and I follow is the Gracewell five-week menu cycle, which is put together and regularly refreshed by our expert dining management team. We also tailor our preparations each week around residents’ preferences. I have a rule in my kitchen, ‘If a resident requests it, we never say no’.
As you may have guessed, one of my favourite parts of the job is getting residents’ input into the meals we offer, so I can make sure the kitchen team are doing the very best job we can. A great opportunity to discuss the meals we offer is our bi-monthly meetings, where residents offer their feedback and make special requests. Putting residents first is absolutely the ethos that runs through our kitchen.
Ultimately, what makes my job so enjoyable is my fantastic team. I am very lucky to be surrounded by talented and passionate chefs, who genuinely want to use their skills to bring a smile to our residents’ faces and make sure we always go above and beyond to provide healthy, nutritious and delicious food.
For Taste of Gracewell, Simon is preparing the dish that he entered for the prestigious NACC Care Chef of the Year competition, which he is currently a South West Regional Finalist for the second year running.