The Chefs’ Forum Gets a Taste of the Hospital Food of the Future

Team Chefs’ Forum, led by Director Catherine Farinha, spent the day at Lainston House in Hampshire on the 25th October watching day 2 of the NHS Chef 2023. This important competition brings hospital chefs together from across the UK to showcase chef talent and allow different hospital trusts to compete against each other.

Philip Shelley was hosting the event with NHS Chef Ambassador Nick Vadis and Net Zero Programme Manager, Tim Radcliffe.  Philip said

“This competition is now in its third year and its great to see how much the finalists, mentors and sponsors are enjoying the day.  It is a great opportunity for all of us, with the common purpose of improving hospital food, to get together, celebrating and rewarding the brilliant culinary talent we have within NHS England.  The competition hasn’t yet run its course this year, but already we’re seeing the bar being lifted higher and higher for creative menus and innovative culinary concepts, we are really delighted with the dishes being showcased by our chefs.”

The Chefs’ Forum is all about celebrating all chefs throughout all sectors and the NHS is not only a fantastic career option for a chef, but there are also great prospects for career progression, leading to catering department management roles, as well as mentoring and training roles throughout multiple trusts and regions.

“It was great for us to spend the day at the competition,” Catherine Farinha said. “We saw plant-based dishes in the morning and 24/7 meals in the afternoon. We watched as dishes were cooked from scratch as they would be in hospitals. Each one of the dishes we saw is cooked at hospital sites for regeneration later at any time of day for patients, staff and visitors.

“We were thrilled to meet the team from Churchill and hear how colourful bistro-style crockery is being trialled both on the ward and in food retail outlets in hospitals to improve the dining experience.”

The visit to NHS Chef 2023 also gave us a chance to see many of the people we’ve interviewed for our upcoming book in partnership with the NHS Hospital Food Review.

As a sequel to The Chefs’ Knowledge published last year, The NHS Chefs’ Knowledge will be all about hospital chefs, stakeholders from the food review and a celebration of all of the wonderful people and brands who are bringing about positive change in hospital menus, across all food offers, for patients, visitors and staff.

Catherine concluded

“It was such an amazing opportunity to see the mentoring chefs in action, supporting the finalists.  Our next visit is to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport to see first-hand the whole food journey, from kitchen to ward.”

Any chefs wishing to know more about careers and job opportunities within NHS England should email

Photo credit: Simon Kearsley, Creative Camera Media.