Steve Dale, Head Chef, Moreton Centre, St Matthew’s Health Care
Steve joined Vegetarian for Life’s UK List in August 2019. In that time, he’s had training visits from VfL’s Roving Chefs at both the care home that he works in and also for its wider chain. He has also completed VfL’s British Dietetic Association Accredited Care Caterer Training.
If that wasn’t enough, Steve has now gone veggie himself, and has increased the number of plant-based dishes at the care home that he works in, often offering six veggie options each day and only limited meat options.
Steve said: “We are continuing to push our offerings onward and upward. We are now a predominantly veggie home; we do still offer a meat choice, but most is plant-based.
“To make things more varied we have started to replicate famous menus, such as a Titanic menu, and we are serving dishes found on the current Ritz menu. This was endorsed by the executive chef of The Ritz, John Williams.
‘’I am also working with the manufacturer of ‘This Isn’t Chicken’; they are hoping to use us as part of their marketing effort.
‘’I planned to radically change the conception of care home food, and this has been achieved. Our food is holistic and works with the clinicians to give our residents dishes that will complement any medication they may be taking.
“In addition to this, we are operating a ‘resident of the day scheme’. This means that each day 2 or 3 residents get their favourite meal, which is separate from the normal menu choice.’’
Steve added: “You get excellent support through Vegetarian for Life. The visiting chefs are a Godsend. Most chefs don’t know a lot about veggie cooking because it’s not something you learn. What elements you need for a full, balanced veggie meal, protein, and other considerations – I’ve learned all of that. Anyone can put together a cauliflower cheese but it’s the more innovative dishes that I’ve learned, such as vegan mac and cheese using nutritional yeast. It’s been a revelation.
“Training is such an invaluable thing. I learned so much. Now I can make a well-balanced veggie menu up and not worry about it. It’s relatively easy now and I know the stuff people enjoy. We can make it low-fat or high calorie, and tailor it as needed for modified diets.”