Plymouth chefs dish out advice to hospital caterers
Two celebrity Westcountry chefs have been recruited to help television chef James Martin improve food in hospitals – including one in Cornwall.
Plymouth-based Chris and James Tanner join James and other well-known culinary faces to turn hospital food around at various sites.
The Tanner brothers were tasked with helping staff at The Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske, Truro (RCHT). It will appear in the second series of Operation Hospital Food on BBC One next week.
According to BBC chiefs, the standard of hospital food concerns a third of people questioned in a 2010 survey. The study found a third of people asked said hospital meals were "unacceptable" with a quarter choosing not to eat it, relying instead on food brought in by visitors.
In 2011, James worked with the team at Scarborough General Hospital to prove change can be achieved without having to spend extra money.
Other chefs joining the venture include Stephen Terry, Galton Blackiston, Paul Merrett and Lawrence Keogh.
Under James's guidance each was sent to a hospital in their own area to tackle one particular task.
James also set out to persuade Department of Health and hospital catering bosses to join his crusade for change. He said: "My mission to improve the quality of hospital food served across the UK has proved to be a bigger challenge than I ever thought possible.
"Every hospital has its own particular problems – and with only three months to complete the transformation it has seemed like an impossible task. At times I have actually sat at home thinking, 'Is it worth it?' because I simply wasn't getting anywhere.
"But I passionately believe that patients deserve the best standard of food available and I'm determined not to fail."
The Tanner brothers faced a range of challenges, including creating tasty soft meals for stroke patients at RCHT. They worked with past and present patients on the Phoenix Ward to developed a range of fork mash-able dishes that will hopefully be adopted at other hospitals across the UK.
Mike Pearson, head of hotel services (catering) at RCHT, worked with the chefs at the hospital's Cornwall Food Unit. He said: "We've put a lot into our regular diets but knew that one area where we wanted to do better was the specialist soft diets for patients with swallowing difficulties. Our Phoenix Stroke Appeal is working towards gold standard care for stroke patients and making sure they are able eat well is a vital element of their recovery."
The series has already begun – viewers will be able to see the RCHT episode on Monday, February 25.