Cater­ing team cook up feasts fit for roy­alty

Macclesfield Express - - EAST CHESHIRE HOSPICE -

CHEF Ray Hamil­ton has cooked for the Queen so it is hardly sur­pris­ing he likes to treat pa­tients at East Cheshire Hos­pice like roy­alty.

It was nine years ago that Ray made af­ter­noon tea for Her Majesty and Prince Philip on their visit to Stafford­shire Univer­sity, where he was ex­ec­u­tive chef.

To­day, he is part of the cater­ing team at East Cheshire Hos­pice which sets such high culi­nary stan­dards that the food is con­sid­ered fit for a queen.

Ev­ery meal is made es­pe­cially to suit the di­etary and med­i­cal re­quire­ments of each in­pa­tient with a menu the envy of a top res­tau­rant.

A sam­ple Sun­day lunch is roasted fil­let of pork with cider cream sauce, Ly­on­naise pota­toes and a med­ley of veg­eta­bles – a far cry from the hor­ror sto­ries of some hos­pi­tal food but then again hos­pices are proud of their unique care and ser­vice, all of which is pro­vided free of charge.

The hos­pice’s six-strong cater­ing team, led by hos­pi­tal­ity man­ager Rob Kind, serve break­fast, lunch, and af­ter­noon tea/ din­ner ev­ery day of the year.

A five-week cy­cle of sea­sonal menus are posted on the kitchen wall near the names of pa­tients with spe­cific needs.

Ray said: “We talk to pa­tients on a daily ba­sis to find out what they want. Some are di­a­bet­ics, oth­ers on soft di­ets, while some may have stents so food may be liq­uidised. It might mean mashed pota­toes rather than roast pota­toes.

“We have a younger chap who has a larger ap­petite so he eats more, whereas older pa­tients with ab­dom­i­nal can­cers might not eat as much so we don’t want to over-face them.

“Some pa­tients might not have eaten be­fore they were ad­mit­ted but we try to get them back on to good whole­some food again and when we see this change that’s nice.

“We go with the flow and find our pa­tients usu­ally pre­fer more tra­di­tional type foods and don’t want dishes that are too fancy. We try to keep it in­ter­est­ing though, so each meal time feels like a cause for cel­e­bra­tion.”

Ray and fel­low chef Tony Wheeler, cater­ing as­sis­tants Diane East­wood and Lynn Led­bury, and cater­ing ap­pren­tice Becky Tom­lin­son of­fer the same menu choices to day care pa­tients at the Sun­flower Cen­tre, while fam­i­lies wish­ing to eat at the hos­pice re­ceive a dis­count.

A drinks trol­ley with a wide range of choices tours the wards five times a day, with drinks avail­able at all times upon re­quest.

Diane said: “It’s fan­tas­tic work­ing here be­cause you feel you’re do­ing some­thing to help peo­ple and the pa­tients and rel­a­tives are so grate­ful.

“Of course it can be up­set­ting at times be­cause of pa­tients’ con­di­tions but you have to walk away and take a five-minute break to pull your­self to­gether. I’ve worked in a fish and chip shop, green­gro­cers, a pub and es­tate agents and the job sat­is­fac­tion here is enor­mous.”

Ray has been a chef for 35 years, start­ing in the Mer­chant Navy be­fore work­ing in restau­rants, golf clubs and ho­tels with wife Jane. He said: “The cater­ing team plays a very big part in the run­ning of the hos­pice. I must ad­mit I felt un­der a bit of pres­sure mak­ing cakes and sand­wiches for the Queen and I was lucky enough to be in­tro­duced to her and Prince Philip.”

●● Cater­ers (from left) Lynn Led­bury, Tony Wheeler, Ray Hamil­ton and Becky Tom­lin­son

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