Developments in Care Home Catering

  • What are the latest developments in convection ovens, grills and steamers?

Old fashioned Salamander grills often waste energy, but the new Charvet version has energy saving features which make it ideal for all-day use, often the case in care homes.

Says Ian Clow, “The latest developments include Plate detection which saves approximately 30% energy by only turning up the heat from ‘standby’ to full power when a plate or tray is put under the grill. There are also two independent cooking areas, so one can be switched off during slack periods.”

Other developments which could help care home operators include coloured cooking ranges.

“At first it seems frivolous in a cost-focussed business,” says Ian Clow. “But coloured ranges are particularly suitable for care homes that want to emphasize the selling point that is their ‘open to view kitchen’ with its focus on home cooking.

“Colouring the enamel panels on a range will match branding or interior design themes but most importantly it sends a message that ‘we are serious about food and cooking’ – and that is important for marketing and sales.

Charvet offers a range of standard, off the shelf colours, or can make virtually any colour you like to order.

  • How can new technologies help care home caterers?

Quality modern cooking ranges, quite simply, will help care homes attract and retain staff.

It’s a fact that chefs are difficult to recruit and keep; yet catering is key to the future success of any home.

Any chef looking at two job opportunities would be mad not to put the one with the best kitchen top of the list!

It is a simple choice if you want good chefs; give them equipment they respect for its power, flexibility and reliability.

Catering for large volumes means using lots of equipment that takes up lots of space…or does it? The new technologies that are helping care home operators get more out of less space include equipment such as a combi-pan, which can fry, poach, braise, boil or even slow cook. Two separate heating zones operate from 50-250°C. Pans can divide so that you can cook separate foods – bacon and sausages for breakfast – if required. Multipurpose kit like this offers flexible menu choices and unlike the single use fryers or bains marie, they can be used in different modes throughout the day.

To maximise energy efficiency and ensure the best hygiene, the first choice for care home operators is now an induction range, perhaps with the addition of fryers and a Plancha, which ensures the range is capable of consistently delivering a large number of covers, but can also provide a variety of cooking styles.

Mixing and matching modules on a cooking range also ensures there are additional resources to use when something critical isn’t working. A suite of different cooking modules provides flexibility and redundancy.

Induction provides a smooth, easy clean surface and is safer and easier to use, especially where there is a mix of chefs and nursing home staff using the cooking equipment.

Operators also appreciate that the reduced load on the ventilation system will also reduce installation costs for a new or refurbished kitchen.

You can’t talk about technology and not mention the traditional roasting oven, which is probably the oldest technology in the kitchen, but is still helping care homes with their daily catering.

Unlike the much-heralded combi oven whose aromas disappear into the ventilation above, the traditional ‘static oven’ has made something of a comeback in recent times because it helps recreate the homely, old fashioned kitchen which residents love.

An induction range with traditional ovens under does not need as much ventilation as gas ranges or combi ovens, allowing more of those fabulous cooking smells to escape into the dining area.

A static oven does a great job of keeping plates warm, baking bread rolls and of roasting meat and potatoes, which is great for marketing the kitchen, by spreading the aroma of cooking and creating a mouthwatering atmosphere that the residents and their visitors will appreciate.

Static ovens are available in several sizes, including (from Charvet) a one-metre wide pass-through model large enough to take a whole lamb, the aromas from which would be enough to make the residents ecstatic!