What does your job entail?
Delicious food is one of the things that makes life that much more enjoyable for all our residents. Our menus are created by the Residence’s team of highly skilled chefs and kitchen staff, led by Patsy McKenzie.
My job is to manage the provision of all of the catering services for the residents. I lead the team in the kitchen and make sure that everyone gets tasty and nutritious meals. Although I have a lot of management and organisational duties, I am still very much hands-on and you’ll always find me with my sleeves rolled up, baking and cooking in the kitchen.
What do you most like about your work?
I love working with my great team, but probably the thing that gives me the most satisfaction is seeing the smiling faces of our residents as they enjoy the food we prepare. Meal times are real focal points in our residents’ days and it is wonderful to be able to make them something that people look forward to and enjoy. The buzz of happy chatter in the dining room is ample payback for the work we do (and something I’ve missed hearing during the Covid lockdown).
I also love giving people tasty treats that can really brighten up their day – for example baking and decorating tailored birthday cakes and coming up with special menus for celebratory meals in our fine-dining room (which we are looking forward to re-starting post-lockdown).
Speaking of lockdown – what are your plans as we emerge from the pandemic?
We’ve got lots of exciting ideas lined up, starting with some theme days – we’ll be going Italian in April, with a Master Class in dough making. The residents will then be able to create their very own pizza toppings.
What is your approach in the kitchen?
Everyone in the kitchen team aims to deliver a delicious, healthy and varied choice of food for our residents. We pride ourselves on using the freshest seasonal ingredients and making everything that we can on the premises, so that it’s as tasty and wholesome as possible. Food is an integral part of our residents’ health and well-being, so it is vital that we get this right.
How do you decide what your team will cook each day?
We have created four weekly seasonal menus. Our carers sit with our residents to find out about what they’d like to eat. For example, they find out what our residents’ favourite foods and cakes were when they were children. We also get input on each individual’s care needs. This means we can take allergies and other health issues into account. We then come up with menus that we know everyone will love.
You mentioned that your menus are healthy – does this mean no puddings?
Absolutely not! People love our delicious sweets and home baking. Because we offer a well-balanced diet with lots of fruit and veg, our residents can enjoy their treats as well.
What are the main challenges you face?
Because we’ve got a good system in place and a highly-qualified and professional team, most things run smoothly. However cooking high-quality food for a large number of people brings inevitable challenges. For example, timing is key – we need to get the food out nice and hot – so this means that we all have to be very organised.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a local girl and was born in the Corstorphine area, so it is nice to be able to work close to ‘home’.
Have you always enjoyed cooking?
Cooking has always been a passion of mine and I have been working in the industry since the tender age of 15. I prefer honest and straightforward cooking and I like making dishes that draw on wholesome ingredients from the local area. This is something I’ve made sure we champion at Cramond Residence.
What training and experience do you bring to your work?
I’ve been in catering for over 40 years. I trained in-house as a youngster and have worked for some of the biggest names in care, such as Renaissance. Over the years, I’ve worked in a really wide range of places, running coffee shops, cafes and franchise restaurants. That said, I like working at Cramond Residence most of all, as it gives me such a lot of scope to cook the food I want, while really helping people to lead a richer (and tastier) life.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I don’t go home and bake to relax! Instead, I like to go out for a meal and have someone else cook for me. I have a passion for rugby and love to watch the Edinburgh and Scotland teams. I’ve also got two beautiful grandchildren to look after, who really fill my time with fun and laughter.