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Chef Development Day: Cutlery-free Cuisine

Avery’s Culinary and Hospitality and Dementia Support Teams were excited to hold a Chef Development Day on the 15th of June at Bidfood, one of our major food suppliers, at their Headquarters in Slough.

The day’s focus was ‘Cutlery-free Cuisine’ – a sector-leading programme developed by Simon Lawrence, Head of Culinary and Hospitality and Jo Crossland, Head of Dementia Care. The initiative provides recipes, advice, tips and tricks on adapting everyday meals into cutlery-free options.

What is Cutlery-free Dining?

The award-winning culinary team at Avery is at the forefront of creative and innovative care home meals. The cutlery-free initiative aims to inspire and raise awareness of the importance of healthy, nutritional meals that are just as accessible as traditional dishes for residents who find manipulating cutlery for various reasons a barrier to independently enjoying food in a dignified way.

There are many reasons why a person may have difficulty using cutlery to eat a meal or a snack. Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, arthritis or a stroke can all affect how an individual can manipulate cutlery. Cognitive illnesses, including dementia, can also cause a person to have difficulty processing their environment or cause problems with sequencing and coordinating actions.

Typically, residents in care homes who have difficulty using conventional cutlery have either required help to eat from others or have been served ‘finger foods’ at mealtimes, often consisting of sandwiches, sausage rolls and similar buffet-style dishes. Although acceptable and appropriate for a party or similar occasion, reliance on these types of foods for main dietary intake increases the risk of undernourishment for an individual due to the typically lower nutritional content. It also increases the stigmatisation risk by highlighting a person’s disability when one resident is served different food to others at the same table.

Chef Development Day

The recent Chef Development Day focus provided the opportunity to equip our chefs with the underpinning principles of the Cutlery-free initiative, enabling them to use their skills and knowledge to create innovative, striking dishes using the same ingredients as main meals with excellent nutritional values.

Several colleagues travelled to join the course, and we would like to thank them for taking part during what continues to be a challenging time for the sector:

Robbie McLeanAcacia Mews Care Home
Emilio PascucciAstbury Manor Care Home
Juan LopezBirchwood Grange Care Home
Champa MistryBirchwood Grange Care Home
James DugmoreDroitwich Mews Care Home
Rafael EspinosaElvy Court Care Home
Gabor CsehElvy Court Care Home
Zoe BathHampstead Court Care Home
Said AshurMerlin Court Care Home
Kristiyan DimitrovRivermere Care Home
Luca GajewskiSpencer House Care Home


Our Talented Culinary Team

Eager to show their skills, our chefs produced an array of dishes, from stuffed eggs to spiced tortillas, small Yorkshire puddings stuffed with cottage pie or vegetable balti, rich potato cakes with mackerel and coriander, pulled pork and apple croquettes, polenta chips and a variety of arancini.

They also created a selection of delicious desserts, including high-calorie brownies, choux buns, mini vanillas, cupcakes, banana cake and mini chocolate tarts.

Whilst guidance was provided at the start of the practical session; our chefs worked collaboratively to adapt the suggested recipes, even creating some new dishes. All who attended thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn new skills and network with colleagues; one chef stating ‘’This has been a fantastic day. My take-home message is the importance of ensuring respect for all our residents.’’

Cutlery-free Dining: What’s Next?

Following the successful launch of a Cutlery-free recipe book’s first edition, our team is currently writing a second edition. The new edition will contain further cutlery-free inspired recipes and helpful hints and tips for our culinary teams.

Chef at Chef Development Day