A caring chef who wows care home residents with his Caribbean cooking has cooked his way to a bronze award in the social care Oscars.
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 scooped third place in the Excellence in Catering Category at the prestigious Wales Care Awards, in recognition of his culinary efforts.
“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 marked the 15th anniversary of the Wales Care Awards, and Reginald attended the glittering ceremony, which took place at City Hall, Cardiff, with his wife Jacqueline. It was also the 25th anniversary of organisers Care Forum Wales. The ceremony was sponsored by Onyx Healthcare.
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, which was sponsored by Harlech Foodservice, singing his praises for frequently going above and beyond to cater for the residents, even cooking 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.”
Mario Kreft, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists have received a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.
“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.
“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.
“We take our hats off to them.”