A group of care home masterchefs are cooking up a storm.
Residents of Pendine Park in Wrexham are making a host of taste bud-teasing dishes after setting up their own cookery school.
The idea came from Elaine Lee, the enrichment and activities coordinator at their Penybryn care home which specialises in brain injuries and neurological problems.
According to Elaine, the aim of the cookery school is to give residents confidence and some level of independence.
Elaine said: “Many of the residents of Penybryn have suffered debilitating strokes or have other conditions that make it difficult to do things for themselves.
“But the cookery school is something they can all enjoy and involves life-skills which are good for them to learn. I also find they work together so it’s a good social exercise and means they are making friends and building relationships.
“They work as a team so if someone has a disability that prevents them peeling a potato for example, one of the others will hold it for them while they peel it.
“The residents enjoy making new soups, fruit smoothies and even cakes and flans. They eat what the make and as food you prepare for yourself always tastes better, there is never anything very much left over!
“By making smoothies and soups it means residents who are on a stayed or liquid diet can still take part. We only have around six taking part at a time for health and safety reasons.
“They all wear protective gloves and finger guards so we don’t get any injuries from chopping up vegetables or fruit.”
Sian Walley, 45, has been a resident of Penybryn for five years and really enjoys the cookery school.
She said: “It’s nice to be able to make soups and cakes together and enjoy them. We work together as a team and have loads of fun.
“In my opinion the soups we make are as good as anything you’d be able to buy in a restaurant, they are delicious.”
Fellow resident Mike Blakeley, 57, a former cabinet maker from Bagillt, in Flintshire, who also used to work as a chef, says he really enjoys making all sorts of foods that residents can then enjoy.
He said: “I suffered a really bad stroke and have to use a wheelchair all the time. Having a chance to make and cook things is great and we all really enjoy it.
“It’s nice to be able to make something we can then share and enjoy together and growing some of our own ingredients is good too.”
Elaine added: “Of course, there are lots of other skills involved such as carefully weighing ingredients and ensuring the food is cooked at the right temperature. We have a soup maker and a portable cake oven we use.
“It’s great fun and residents really enjoy it. And of course we are growing some of our own produce in grow-bags outside in the garden. We have developed the idea and are growing leeks, carrots, potatoes, strawberries and mushrooms which we then use in our cooking.”
Senior manager Gill Hughes said: “It gives residents who have suffered severe stokes or have other significant brain injuries or conditions confidence and the chance to learn some important life-skills they may have forgotten.
“It’s also nice they work as a team and help each other with measuring and working out cooking times. The activities coordinator, Elaine Lee, does a great job and ensures the health and safety of residents is paramount.”
“The food they prepare, especially the soups smell delicious and I’m waiting to be invited to lunch!”