Win­ner Richard cooks up treat at care home

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

A HEAD chef who left his role at a top culi­nary ho­tel to serve up high-qual­ity dishes at a de­men­tia care cen­tre has spo­ken of his de­light after win­ning a gold award at the so­cial care Os­cars.

Richard Thomp­son ad­mits it was a huge wrench to leave The White Lion Ho­tel in Worces­ter, but says lead­ing the cater­ing team at Bryn Seiont Newydd in Caernar­fon, Gwynedd, since its open­ing in Oc­to­ber 2015 has pro­vided him with the fresh chal­lenge he was crav­ing.

The 37 year-old cater­ing man­ager, who has brought with him a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence and skills to the care sec­tor, has been praised for the pre­sen­ta­tion of his food which has not only been well re­ceived by res­i­dents but also their vis­it­ing fam­ily mem­bers.

His hard work and ded­i­ca­tion to giv­ing res­i­dents “dig­nity at meal times” over the past two years led to him be­ing nom­i­nated for the Ex­cel­lence in Cater­ing award in the Wales Care Awards, spon­sored by On­tex Health­care and Barch­ester Jobs.

The pres­ti­gious na­tional awards, run by Care Fo­rum Wales and dubbed the “Os­cars” of the care in­dus­try, ac­knowl­edge the hard work and ex­cep­tional per­for­mances of those in the sec­tor.

Richard, who lives in Bethel near Caernar­fon, Gwynedd, was awarded the top prize in his cat­e­gory, which was spon­sored by Har­lech Foodser- vice, dur­ing a glit­ter­ing awards cer­e­mony at City Hall in Cardiff.

He said: “I was shocked, I re­ally wasn’t ex­pect­ing it. I was just proud to have been part of the evening and that topped it off. It’s a big hon­our.

“I’ve al­ways said this is very much about the team. I wouldn’t take all the credit be­cause I couldn’t have done it with­out them.

“Ev­ery­one is de­lighted at Bryn Seiont Newydd and have all wished me con­grat­u­la­tions.

“I didn’t make the move into the care sec­tor to win awards or things like that but, of course, it’s nice to know that what you do is ap­pre­ci­ated.

“It’s long hours and a lot of hard work so it’s nice to get recog­ni­tion.”

Richard is orig­i­nally from Ch­ester and after leav­ing school landed an ap­pren­tice­ship which was to help shape his fu­ture cater­ing ca­reer.

He ex­plained: “I did an ap­pren­tice­ship at a ho­tel in Tar­por­ley, just out­side of Ch­ester, called The Swan Ho­tel and went to Mid-Cheshire col­lege once a week to do my NVQ in cater­ing.

“After nine months when I’d got my Level 2 award my head chef at the ho­tel left to buy his own ho­tel in Worces­ter.

“I had a re­ally good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with him; he ba­si­cally took me un­der his wing.

“He con­tacted me to see if I’d con­sider tak­ing up a po­si­tion at the ho­tel and I thought why not? I was still only 17 so it was a big move leav­ing home.

“But I knew that I was go­ing to learn a hell of a lot more by mak­ing the move and I ended up stay­ing there for 18 years.

“I re­ally en­joyed it so it was a big de­ci­sion for me to leave. It wasn’t easy. I was part of the fur­ni­ture and the own­ers were more like fam­ily than my bosses.”

Richard, how­ever, knew the time had come for a fresh chal­lenge and after be­ing alerted to the va­cancy at Bryn Seiont Newydd, which is run by the Pen­dine Park Care Or­gan­i­sa­tion on the site of the old com­mu­nity hospi­tal, he de­cided to take the plunge.

He said: “I wanted a new chal­lenge, some­thing dif­fer­ent to get my teeth into. I’ve not re­gret­ted it.

“Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent and it’s never mun­dane. There is al­ways some­thing to chal­lenge you.

“I was open minded about mov­ing into the care sec­tor and once I sat down with Mario Kreft (pro­pri­etor at Pen­dine Park) and heard his phi­los­o­phy, I knew it was right for me.

“His ethos is ba­si­cally that ev­ery­thing is done and catered for the res­i­dents. They are the main fo­cus and noth­ing is too much trou­ble.

“We have to tai­lor ev­ery­thing for their needs and di­etary re­quire­ments.”

Richard says he has trans­ferred his ho­tel ex­per­tise over to the care sec­tor and this is help­ing to en­rich the lives of the res­i­dents.

He ex­plained: “Pre­sen­ta­tion was a big part of work­ing at the ho­tel. We gained one AA Rosette in the first year and main­tained it for 18 con­sec­u­tive years after. You eat with your eyes so if it looks nice it will en­cour­age them to eat.

“Quite a num­ber of fam­ily mem­bers come and eat with the res­i­dents each week and they keep com­ing back so it must be okay!”

● Award win­ner Richard Thomp­son in the kitchen at Pen­dine Park Bryn Seiont Newydd, Caernar­fon.

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