The Chefs’ Forum Partners with Rational UK to Support Hospital Caterers!

Chefs, caterers, and equipment manufacturers should be looking at hospitals as the next battle ground for better standards.

The Chefs’ Forum is delighted to be working in partnership with Rational UK to bring together 150 hospital sector catering delegates to discuss the various topics covered in the recent NHS Food Review report.

Updated technology, sustainability and hospital chef training were cited in the report as being of the utmost importance, so Rational UK has taken the step to cover this as well as kitchen design, nutrition, menu development in a two-hour seminar taking place on the 28th April.

The Prue Leith-led report into hospital food may have come out four months ago, but its findings have been lost in the lockdown and the fact that hospitals have been under siege for close to a year.

Philip Shelley, Chair of the NHS Hospital Food Review will be speaking at the virtual event and  welcomes The Chefs’ Forum’s joint campaign with Rational UK to highlight the cause for an overhaul of hospital menus and kitchen operations, he said

“With 40 new hospitals being planned, there has never been a better time to review hospital catering across the board.  It would be great to have increased influence over hospital menus and the training and development of chefs and leaders within catering, as well as those patient-facing in terms of portion control and finishing dishes to a decent standard.  Improved technology, training and ingredients in hospital kitchens will mean that hospital chefs are able to create delicious food, that is both nutritious and visually appealing.  Its time we broke the stigma of hospital food being unappealing and rather make it something to look forward to, improving the patient experience in hospital.”

Philip is a great proponent of ‘The Power of Three”, this is the positive relationship between dieticians, caterers and clinicians, this will be the main theme of the event which chimes with the Rational hospital sector strapline of “The way back to good health” in working with hospital kitchens to improve precision and consistency with the ConnectedCooking system and cutting edge technology.

A close look at the document produced by a panel of experts from official bodies including The Hospital Caterers Association, Public Health England, The Food Standards Agency and The British Dietetic Association reveals a huge opportunity for all parts of the hospitality industry to get active and pitch in. Why?

There’s a very simple answer to that question: because the report has the backing of the The Prime Minister, The Health Minister and the NHS. For the very first time there is a real chance of change in hospital food with two distinct points highlighting the opportunity.

Point 1 – NHS kitchens are often a long way from the patient

Point 2 – Kitchens may be in sorry need of refurbishment and wards often lack finishing kitchens or café facilities

Yes, so? What does that mean? If you read between the lines it means only one thing. If the right answers are put in place, then investment to make the necessary changes will be forthcoming.

How will this happen? You only need to look at the hospitality response to lockdown and the drive for a Minister for Hospitality to see that the industry can act and get things done. A debate happened. The government listened. There is dialogue.

If the hospitality industry can demonstrate that it can use its muscle in an area that has full government support then the answers that are desperately needed in the NHS can show why a Minister for Hospitality is such an important post. Hospital Hospitality. The two go together.

Hospital food has always been an add-on. It’s a consequence of being in hospital. That’s why kitchens are far away and under-valued. The primary needs are staff, equipment and technology. That’s perfectly true. But now there is an understanding at the top levels that taking a broader look at the true power of food as medicine can have a lasting effect on health and the well-being of patients. Improve the food, improve health.

Paul Da Costa Greaves, UK Country Manager for Koppert Cress said

“We have undertaken extensive research into this very subject in Holland and would love to support the Hospital Caterers Association here in the UK.  It would be great to look at replacing salt-laden powdered stocks and sauces with healthier alternatives using cresses and microgreens to fortify and enrich hospital menus.  It is imperative that nutrition is addressed and that menus offered aid recovery and assist in making hospital food not only look better but taste great too.”

So, what’s it going to take? There is equipment out there that can revolutionise hospital food. New tech from companies like Rational could make the production of food faster, more consistent and diverse without breaking a sweat.

Colin Parry, Sales Director at Rational is currently working with The Chefs’ Forum to bolster support for hospitals chefs and caterers, he said

“Our new RATIONAL ConnectedCooking range has set new standards for automated and precision cooking. The iVario Pro and iCombi Pro models have taken technology used in hospital kitchens to new levels making cooking more precise than ever before.  The RATIONAL iVario Pro and iCombiPro are very fast and so easy to use.  Not only do the new models look fantastic, instantly updating aging kitchens, they deliver outstanding food quality without checking or supervision.  We would be delighted to work with The Chefs’ Forum to show hospital chefs how value can be added to their kitchens in terms of saving time and money and improving levels of precision and productivity.”

A new thinking process, led by chefs, could improve and modernise hospital menus to include the sorts of dishes that patients actually want to eat.

Put the two points together and it is clear that hospitality understanding of finishing kitchens will play a big part going forward. What this area needs is a chef to do the planning. The report by Prue Leith highlighted crisp toast for breakfast. What will that take? How can it be done? There is tech out there but it needs to be planned. This is the opportunity for hospitality to take the lead.

Any hospital caterers or catering managers who would like attend this free event should contact