A caring chef who cooked up a storm on luxurious cruises is in the running for national award after impressing care home residents with his five star culinary skills.
Reginald Milton Inness, who is 58 and originally from Guyana, has worked as a chef at Picton Court Care Home, Porthcawl, for the last decade.
He’s now cooked his way into the finals of the prestigious Wales Care Awards, the social care Oscars.
“I was elated to be shortlisted, because I see it as recognition for my work and its value,” said Reginald.
“I’ve had the privilege of touring around the Caribbean and being paid to do so, but what I find even more rewarding is helping people.
“I see myself as a chef in the care industry, for me this is a greater reward than cruising.”
This year is the 15th anniversary of the Wales Care Award, and Reginald will attend the glittering ceremony, which takes place at City Hall, Cardiff, on October 19, with his wife Jacqueline. This year also marks the 25th anniversary Care Forum Wales.
The culinary whizz’s career history includes lengthy spells working in prisons, on oil rigs, and then on cruise ships.
Reginald, who has lived in Tondu, Bridgend, since moving to Wales 14 years ago, has been cooking since he was a child and has been a professional chef for over 30 years. He attributes his skills to his Caribbean roots.
“It is different in the Caribbean than here, we didn’t have ready – made and packaged foods there,” said Reginald.
“Growing up in the Caribbean you have to learn to cook from scratch, and even on the cruise ships, you are required to do everything.
“That’s why I know how to cook most things – the skills I had to learn have been invaluable.”
Reginald’s colleagues and the home’s residents had no hesitation in nominating him for the Excellence in Catering Award, saying he frequently goes above and beyond to cater for the residents, and has cooked for them on his days off for occasions such as tea parties and barbecues.
Picton Court’s manager Shajitha Augustine said: “Reg treats the kitchen as the heart of the home and the residents, families and staff members enjoy the food – not only the taste, but also the presentation.
“Reg’s crafting skills are impeccable which clearly shows in his practice and his ability to present it with an eye for the users’ taste. Reg’s homemade cakes, biscuits and roasties are well-known by the residents, families, colleagues and even the external professionals.
“Reg treats others with respect and dignity and acts as a role model to his team.
“His passion for caring and catering for others is clear. Reg leads the team with commitment and he will often go above and beyond to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.”
Reginald’s culinary expertise includes cuisine from all over the world, and he often treats the residents to themed nights, including, of course, Caribbean nights.
He said: “I have cooked Caribbean food for them; I cooked jerk chicken for them at the summer fete, and I did friend rice, Spanish rice, some Caribbean salads and punch and things, it was a huge success.
“The residents’ families loved it too.
“We have Indian theme nights, and Chinese theme nights, they were very popular, and very much appreciated.
“Sometimes some of the residents are reluctant to try foods they’re unfamiliar with, but as soon as they try the new food, they almost always love it.
“I’m very much looking forward to the awards ceremony, I will get a new suit and make sure I’m all decked out for it!”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.
He said: “This year’s ceremony is an even more special occasion because it marks the 15th anniversary of the Wales Care Awards and the 25th anniversary of Care Forum Wales and the event is now firmly established as one of the highlights in the Welsh social care calendar.
“The aim is to recognise the unstinting and often remarkable dedication of our unsung heroes and heroines across Wales.
“The care sector is full of wonderful people because it’s not just a job it’s a vocation – these are the people who really do have the X Factor.
“If you don’t recognise the people who do the caring you will never provide the standards that people need and never recognise the value of the people who need the care in society.
“We need to do all we can to raise the profile of the care sector workforce – they deserve to be lauded and applauded.”