Steven Ireland, Catering Operations Support Manager at Country Court, has been voted Care Home Chef 2020 at the Great British Care Awards. Steven was previously Chef Manager at Ferrars Hall Care Home when he was nominated. We caught up with Steven to ask him about the award and what winning means to him.
Watching at home in my pyjamas, with my wife and kids! It was very different from the East Midlands regional awards which I attended in black tie with my work colleagues!
We opened a bottle of champagne! I got lots of calls and text from friends and colleagues which was great.
I was really excited to win the award and delighted that my hard work over the years has paid off.
I think the judges were looking for something different and were keen to know how we get residents involved in planning menus and gain feedback. They liked my idea of using an Instagram account for families to follow so they can see what their loved ones have had for their meals. Getting residents and families involved is something I’m passionate about, it’s so important to spend time asking people whether they enjoyed their meal and what we could do better.
I always make sure I go to Resident’s Meetings to make sure that the hospitality is on the agenda and get feedback that way. I also spend time in the dining room with residents each day, just chatting to people after each meal is the best way to find out what they liked or how we can improve next time.
You can find me at @chef_steven_ireland, there are lots of examples of the dishes I’ve served to residents at Ferrars Hall Care Home in Huntingdon plus various celebrations and events we’ve done.
The company has definitely helped me achieve this award. The five-star standard that the Country Court group expects means that standards are high across the whole group. As Chefs, we are given a lot of freedom to choose menus that are suitable for the residents in our individual care homes. Every home is very different with residents likes and preferences varying widely so it’s important that we don’t have set menus across the group. The food we serve is down to Chef manager’s interaction with residents and based on their feedback. Read more about Steven’s secret ingredients to becoming an award-winning chef.
I want to keep progressing my career with Country Court. In my new role as Catering Operations Support Manager, I now support other Chef Managers to improve their service, sharing advice and best practice. I’m keen to get our Chefs to engage with residents and encourage them to get out of the kitchen on a regular basis.