Northern Ireland Branch News

From Elsa Witherspoon

ChefOur Annual Bake Off was held in Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Belfast on 19 October and attracted a good number of entries for the five categories, which included:

  • filled sponge swiss roll;
  • any gluten-free dessert;
  • 2lb wheaten loaf;
  • afternoon tea plate (to exclude sandwiches), and
  • 8” chocolate cake.

CakesFour out of the five Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland participated. This is always a very popular Branch event, allowing Catering staff from other hospitals/community facilities to network with each other while displaying their expertise and baking talents. The judging panel, which was ably chaired again this year by Maire Bermingham, Assistant Director Corporate Support Services Northern Health and Social Care Trust, had many difficult decisions to make.

CakesStar baker was Richmond Skelly, Chef at Pinewood Residential Home NHSCT, who scooped three first places out of the five categories (pictured). Matthew McCullough, Chef at Holywell Hospital NHSCT, won the wheaten bread section and Kim Goodman, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, took first place in the afternoon tea section.

When announcing the winners, Maire said she was very impressed with the standard of all the entries and looked forward each year to being part of this prestigious event.

On behalf of the judging panel, she commended all the participants on the high standard in all of the categories, and stated that this once again demonstrated the level of skill we have within our hospital catering teams. She added that the Bake Off competition was a great networking opportunity for hospital catering staff and also contributed to their continuing professional development.

Branch Seminar

The annual Northern Ireland Branch Seminar on 31 October, entitled ‘Managing life around a food allergy’ and ‘Minimum Nutritional Standards for Northern Ireland’, proved to strike a chord with the delegates in attendance, because allergens have become a priority for hospital caterers.

Richard Cassells, who suffers from a severe nut allergy, set the scene with his opening session, detailing how he has had several ‘near misses’ with food that he believed – and was informed to be – safe for him to eat. He accentuated the dangers and emphasised the reality of our responsibility as caterers for the provision of safe food to allergen sufferers. Presentations by the Food Standards Agency and Environmental Health reinforced the legislation surrounding allergens and how these can be enforced.

The afternoon session focused on the newly launched Minimum Nutritional Standards for Northern Ireland and Joanne Casey, FSA, outlined the standards, their implications for NHS staff catering and the implementation programme. We were delighted to have Phil Shelley, Former National Chair, as our Seminar Chairman and he rounded off the day by summarising the 4 Nations’ approach on nutrition and hydration, The Power of 3, The Last Nine Yards, multi-disciplinary team working, balancing the budget and our role in providing a positive experience for our patients. Unfortunately our National President, Lord Philip Hunt, who had planned to be present, was unable to join us owing to unforeseen last-minute commitments in the House of Lords. However, our Northern Health & Social Care Trust Chief Executive, Dr Tony Stevens, did a first-class ‘stand in’ job.

Alongside the seminar, we had a mini trade exhibition with 14 trade stands that proved very beneficial to our delegates, and once again we thank our trade colleagues for their continued support.

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