Chef Mark Williams at Lostock Lodge Care Home has recently been crowned winner of the Country Court Chef of the Year 2021 competition. The competition was launched this year and has been a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate the fantastic work of the Chefs at Country Court. The final cook-off for the six finalists was held at the Unilever Food Solutions professional development kitchen. The dishes were sampled and judged by Country Court Chairman Abdul Kachra, and joint-CEOs Alykhan Kachra and Al-Karim Kachra. Ben Cox from The Grange Care home came third with Simon Bullock, also of Lostock Lodge, in second.
We caught up with Mark and asked him about his career in catering and life at Lostock Lodge Care Home.
I started my career when I left school in 1989, I went to catering college for 2 years and have been in the trade ever since. I’ve worked in many restaurants, hotels and catered for sporting events over the years. I’ve enjoyed all aspects of my career. I’ve been here at Lostock Lodge for five years, I joined just after the home opened. I think my career highlight is winning this competition at Country Court.
I was approached about the job and hadn’t thought about working in care before. I came to see the home and decided to give it a go. It is very different working in care compared to restaurants, I really enjoy knowing that people have been well fed and working with the care teams.
I start at 6 am so I’m up at 4.30 am. As soon as I come in, I get breakfast on and prep for lunch. We have a relaxed atmosphere in the kitchen because we have a great team. The team have been very consistent with Head Chef Simon leading for over five years now. It’s all about teamwork. We work with care teams to support specific residents. We fortify some meals to keep residents healthy and maintain a good weight. The kitchen team attend the daily flash meetings to ensure we’re kept in the loop about any new residents or changes.
If there’s a birthday or other occasion, we will always do a special cake. We also like to do an Afternoon tea for special occasions. Throughout the year we use a 4-week menu cycle and residents can make special requests. We always get really good feedback on the food.
The menu was completely our own choice we had 2.5 hours to produce canapes for 8, 4 mains and 4 desserts with a budget of £10 per head. For the canapes, I cooked salmon and smoked haddock fish cake with tartar sauce. My main course was cannon of lamb with potatoes and celeriac rosti, with spinach, asparagus and tomato. For dessert, I made a white chocolate panna cotta with deconstructed rhubarb crumble. I think it was the dessert that won it!
I’m most proud of the dessert, so probably that one. I tested the recipes out at Lostock Lodge first, the staff tried them and gave feedback, it was good to test the timings before the judging day.
Don’t particularly have one, I just love cooking!