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Paul Cowley


Q: What does your job involve?

A: I’m second chef here at Cramond Residence. Basically, we produce menus, cook the food and supply the residents with a five-star dining experience for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

An average day varies, we do a couple of shifts, morning shift and a back shift. The morning shift consists of coming and getting breakfast ready, cooking all the bits and pieces to order, then we start on the lunch menu. Then after lunch menu, we’ll start with an evening menu. We’ve also got home baking and make all sorts of delicious things on top of that as well.

Q: How do you help make the residents’ lives better?

A: We try to anticipate what the residents will ask for and we have the flexibility to allow them to enjoy what they feel like eating, not necessarily what’s on the set menu. They can choose whatever they want basically. For example, this morning I was asked for a cream cheese omelette and was happy to oblige. One thing I’m sure of – the resident really look forward to sitting down for a meal with their friends.

Q: How do you meet residents’ dietary needs?

A: Naturally we respond to all dietary and medical requirements such as allergies. For example, we make special pureed meals, gluten-free meals and provide soft diets and finger foods. We’ve come up with a process to make our pureed meals look a lot nicer. We use moulds and natural setting agents with a high melting temperature, so, even though the food is pureed, it still looks as if you’re getting a piece of chicken or a piece of pork or sausage – like a main meal.

I believe that nobody should be treated any different, whether they’ve got dementia or if they haven’t got the full use of their hands. The servers and carers make sure that all residents get the best possible dining experience. They help them to eat and chop up the food for them if necessary.

Q: How do you make the food you serve special?

A: We try and make the meals a sensory experience for the residents – so it might evoke a memory, say of a meal they’ve had on holiday. To get people interested in their food and in food in general, we do ‘cooking with the chefs’ events, where I give demonstrations. For example, we did a curry day and the residents could taste and smell all the Indian, Malaysian and Korean spices (nothing really fiery of course).

Q: What is the food at Cramond Residence like?

A: I think that the food’s very good. I come from a hotel background and I was actually very surprised at the very high quality of the foods here because I’ve worked in a lot of other care homes residencies and, no disrespect to those places, but the food they served was nowhere near as good a quality as the meals the residents get here. I think Cramond is just more oriented around the needs of the type of residents we get here. The proof is in the pudding – I am proud to say that we get a lot of very good feedback.

Q: What motivates you?

A: You have to love cooking to do it. I do the job because I want to be challenged. At Cramond you never know from one day to the next what residents are going to need or ask for. You have the cater for how they feel on the day. So you’ve always got to anticipate these things and that’s what I love about the job. You always have to be one step ahead, you have to think out of the box.

Q: What experience do you bring to your work?

A: I was an executive chef at Diageo. I was in charge of 14 sites in Scotland and two down in England. So it was out and about on a daily basis, travelling 1,000s of miles a week, back and forth between all the sites.

Q: Is Cramond Residence a good place to work?

A: The support in here is fantastic – the management are not slow at getting us what we need. The staff are lovely. Everybody’s willing to help each other, and there’s a fantastic atmosphere. Training is fantastic as well.