Celebrity chef opens hospice kitchen
A kitchen installed 25 years ago at Francis House Children’s Hospice has undergone a major makeover.
After a quarter of a century of producing more than 300,000 meals for the families of children with life-limiting conditions, the kitchen was in desperate need of a refurb.
Cramped cupboards and a small serving hatch, have been swapped for modern sleek units and a large island complete with sinks to help with food preparation.
After weeks of upgrading, Francis House chef Dean Jenkins, who has worked at the hospice since it first opened in 1991, was keen to don his apron and test out the new facilities.
To celebrate the occasion, chef and Channel 4 Sunday Brunch host Simon Rimmer officially unveiled the new cooking space.
“It looks amazing, the size of the kitchen that Dean’s got to work in now is going to make life much easier and give him and the volunteers the opportunity to cook more varied things,” commented Rimmer. “It will be brilliant for everyone.”
Simon added: “I’ve always been a big supporter of Francis House, the work they do here is unbelievable. I’m honoured and flattered to be the person to open the kitchen.”
Dean from Withington, heads up a dedicated team of kitchen volunteers who travel to the Didsbury-based hospice from across the region to help out with daily food preparation, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as clearing away and washing up.
He said: “The kitchen was ready for an upgrade, it was quite big but didn’t use the space well.
“At the beginning we had domestic ovens now we have catering ovens, we’ve come a long way since the early days.”
Kitchens are often described as the heart of the home, and this is certainly the case for Francis House.
Dean said: “For the children and families that come here, having a mealtime routine in lives that are often so chaotic is extremely important,
“It takes the pressure off the parents, when they come here they don’t have to cook and worry about organising a meal,
“We have a laugh and a joke, there is a really good atmosphere, it really is a great place to work.”
The daily menu caters for all needs and is often adapted if parents have a preferred dish.
“Family favourites are vegetable hot pot and lasagne.
Restaurateur Simon knows the joy people get for having a meal cooked for them.
He said: “There’s something nice about having a plate of food put in front of you.
“I’m in an unfortunate position that nobody cooks for me, we never get invited to people’s houses for dinner - I think everyone kind of panics.
“I’d be quite happy to sit down and someone bring me beans on toast because I haven’t had to do it, but then equally I think there’s something really lovely about cooking food and just saying ‘dig in’.”
Francis House Children’s Hospice helps more than 460 families of children, teenagers and young adults with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses.
Providing support, friendship and short breaks of respite care for the whole family, the hospice needs over £4.2 million in donations each year to continue to provide its services.