Hospital chefs recreate award-winning dishes at charity lunch for colleagues

It was a proud mum moment.

Catering assistant Joe Hennigan received a well-deserved kiss from his mum Heather after cooking a world-class three-course lunch in the kitchens of the Portsmouth hospital where he was born.

Together with chefs Jim Richardson and Dave Smith, Joe cooked up a storm for around 45 NHS colleagues

Guests had paid £15 each to enjoy the mouth-watering lunch in the restaurant at St Mary’s Community Health Campus, with all proceeds going to Solent NHS Trust Charity.

The menu, which included both meat and plant based options, featured award-winning creations with which Jim and Joe had soared to success in the NHS Chef 2022 competition, ending up third nationally.

Guests were treated to the lads’ now infamous butternut squash, chilli and lime soup before tucking into either roasted venison with seasonal vegetables or sticky sesame cauliflower.

For dessert, there was Sicilian lemon mousse served with a shortbread biscuit or fig and Narayan honey cheesecake.

Mark Young, Deputy Director of Estates and Facilities, who led guests in a round of applause at the end of the meal, said: “We are extremely proud of these guys, who as well as cooking absolutely incredible food have been amazing ambassadors for Solent’s Catering department.

“We are also very grateful to Dave who kept the kitchens running, sometimes single-handedly, while Jim and Joe were off competing. He cancelled days off and really went out of his way to support his colleagues.

“A big thank you goes to the whole team, who are hard-working, super talented and an absolute credit to Solent NHS Estates and Facilities.”

Entering NHS Chef 2022 was a bold move for Jim and Joe. Jim had been hidden away in NHS kitchens his entire working life, while Joe had joined the trust only months earlier as a trainee.

But with the encouragement of their line manager Iain Robertson, himself a former NHS chef, the pair soared through their heats at the gruelling six-day final, which took place in Warminster in October.

And it didn’t stop there. In March, the dynamic duo were awarded gold medals for the culinary expertise they displayed at the world famous International Salon Culinaire competition in London.

As well as Jim and Joe’s competition successes, the wider team has been busy visiting schools as part of a careers programme and taking part in events and workshops to refresh their kitchen skills and recipe ideas.

Iain Robertson, Catering Operations Manager, said: “From the chefs through to front of house, everyone pulled together to make this charity lunch a huge success.

“The team rises to whatever challenge is put in front of them and I am immensely proud of everything they have achieved.”

Money raised from the lunch will go to Solent NHS Trust Charity to help provide extras for the benefit of patients and staff.

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