The Kitchen is the heart of the home at Esker Lodge!

The kitchen is the heart of the home and it’s no different at Esker Lodge Nursing Home. With seventy residents, staff and guests to cater for, the catering department is a hub of activity. Planning daily menus, catering for large events or parties, cooking seasonal fare, managing stock and equipment is all part and parcel of the everyday running of this busy, fast-paced department.

When asked how everything runs so efficiently in the kitchen the team all agreed that Suzanna reigns as the ‘Iron Lady’. With thirteen years of experience both as Catering Assistant and Assistant Chef, her energy and demand for tasks to be done right and for things to be in order sets the bar high for the rest of the team to follow. If the pace slows down Olesia (one of our catering assistants) is on hand to offer a caffeine boost as she is hands down the best Barista in the team.

Together, the team plan weekly menus to ensure variety and appeal to our Residents. In turn, our Care Teams advocate for the Residents and encourage communication and feedback to the Catering Department. One of the ways this is done is through our Residents Forum meetings. The freedom to give suggestions informs the menu choices offered. Special requests to suit particular dietary needs are catered for so that a favourite item such as scones can be made gluten or dairy-free to suit the individual resident with particular dietary needs. However, some firm favourites never change – foods like Boxty and Fried Eggs, Jelly and Ice-cream and Pancakes never seem to leave the request section of the menu at any time of the year and I definitely couldn’t argue with that!

With a long history of Catering for memorable special events, Rita is the hand of experience when i

t comes to large parties. Over the 15 years, she has been Catering Assistant, Rita has experienced an array of events including- International Cultural Taster days, the Esker Show day, the 10-year Anniversary Party, Christmas Parties, Mother’s and Father’s day lunches, Birthday celebrations and our Annual Remembrance Service to name but a few events. On these occasions, we have welcomed family members, staff families and guests to Esker Lodge to join in our celebrations. The preparation and presentation of food and drinks with fine details such as Table Linens, Delph Teapots, China Tea Cups and Cake Stands is always done with care and pride by Rita and all the members of the team.

We pride ourselves on our hospitality for these occasions, serving an array of savoury and sweet foods. Being creative with dishes is what Ciara our chef thrives on. Being mindful that many residents are unable to dine in a hotel or restaurant motivates Ciara to bring a fine dining experience to the Residents for special seasonal occasions such as Christmas and Easter. Ciara also creates seasonal trolleys where she decorates the entire trolley for the occasion in order to showcase it to all the residents. This provides them with a stimulating visual and sensory experience of the array of treats on offer. She also prides herself on creating special dishes such as dairy and gluten-free dishes and treats so that everyone is included in these special occasions.

Afternoon tea at Esker Lodge Nursing Home, Cavan. Special treats by our catering team.

Tea or coffee, the catering team is ready.

Not content with her culinary expertise Ciara says she would welcome a few lessons from Cavan’s famous chef Neven Maguire if she ever got the chance!

Many of our residents over the years have been keen Bakers and enjoy making brown bread, buns and seasonal cakes with the support of our Activity Co-Ordinators and Catering team. We were delighted to take part in the ‘Great Irish Bake’ recently with great success. Residents, staff and the Catering team worked together to bake and decorate goodies to share with everyone while raising money for Crumlin and Temple Street Children’s Hospitals.

With every day a learning experience, we could conclude that the perfect ingredients for a well-run kitchen are: a good measure of planning, a large splosh of teamwork, a good pinch of creativity and a dash of caffeine.  We hope to once again be able to share our hospitality with extended family members and friends in the near future when restrictions allow and know that with all these ingredients in place, our Kitchen will continue to be at the heart of our home at Esker Lodge.