Chef Juliana Martins of The Chase Care Home Featured on BBC for Heartwarming Culinary Project

At The Chase Care Home, part of the Connaught Care Collection, a heartfelt culinary initiative is making waves and garnering attention, most notably from the BBC. Head chef Juliana Martins is spearheading a project aimed at reawakening precious memories for residents with dementia through the power of nostalgic recipes. This initiative not only warms hearts but also aims to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society.

The Chase Care Home is creating a unique cookbook filled with the favourite family recipes of its residents. From classic trifles to toad-in-the-hole and comforting steamed puddings, these cherished dishes are set to become a legacy for future generations.

Juliana Martins, head chef at The Chase, has been passionate about this idea since 2018. “I was trying to make our residents happy and understand how they wanted dishes to be presented and cooked,” she explained. “I thought, why not just get them to tell me what I should be doing?”

Ms Martins, originally from Brazil, reflected on her own family history and the role food played in it. Her grandmother, who also suffered from dementia, was a chef. This personal connection inspired Juliana to ensure that the residents’ culinary memories would not be forgotten.

In a touching moment, she shared, “We brought the residents into the kitchens and started having some chats about their stories and memories. It brought my grandmother to mind – she passed 10 years ago with dementia and I never had any recipes or writing from her.”

Capturing Memories Through Recipes

The process involves inviting residents into the kitchen to share their recipes and culinary stories. “Just having a one-to-one with the residents in the kitchen, I thought why not record that and create a legacy?” said Ms Martins. This approach has not only sparked joy among the residents but also allowed them to feel a sense of purpose and belonging.

One resident, who has dementia and often feels confused, used to be a chef. When she talks about recipes, she vividly remembers and can explain the details. “It’s really nice to see how engaged she is getting,” Ms Martins noted.

A Lasting Impact

The recipes gathered are not just for the cookbook; they are being incorporated into the care home’s menus. “They teach me how they want me to cook – the way they want me to do it,” said Ms Martins. This personalised touch ensures that residents feel more at home and comfortable.

Sam Bilton, a food historian and host of the Comfortably Hungry Podcast, emphasised the importance of food memories. “I think it sort of connects us with our past and in some cases provides us with solace – and can connect us with someone – as well as with fond memories from childhood.”

A Community Effort

The Chase Care Home project has been a collaborative effort involving residents and their relatives. The joy of recreating family recipes together has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved. The care home hopes this cookbook will serve as a testament to its residents’ rich culinary histories while supporting the Alzheimer’s Society.

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