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Martin's medicinal mealtimes are spicing up care homes' cuisine

Chef Martin Packard (Photo: Chris Balcombe)
Chef Martin Packard (Photo: Chris Balcombe)

A CHEF who has catered for celebrities is now providing all food and catering services at two charity-run care homes in the New Forest and Waterside.

Martin Packard has worked in the food and hospitality sectors for over 25 years, including being a luxury yacht chef, cooking for celebrity weddings and prestigious game fairs, and running his own events and catering company.

More recently, he has formed Honey Bee Catering, and his expertise is now being applied at Forest Oaks in Brockenhurst and Little Haven in Dibden Purlieu, both run by the Wilverley Association, a charitable trust.

He cooked venison on BBC’s The One Show and catered for hundreds at Highclere Castle (TV’s Downton Abbey), and while head chef at the Cottage Lodge Hotel in Brockenhurst, the venue’s eatery was in the top 1% of New Forest restaurants.

Martin, who has family members in care homes, said: “I was raised with the belief that not only is mealtime a social occasion to be enjoyed, but food itself is emotive and there are enormous health benefits to a wholesome meal.”

In addition to using fresh ingredients, Martin has also studied the medicinal benefits of herbs and spices in cooking.

“This is why I include sage in soups, stews and gravies as it can help brain function and memory,” he explained.

“Turmeric is added to soups, stews, batter and gravies to improve brain function, fight Alzheimer's, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and relieve arthritis, to name but a few benefits.

“Some of my desserts and cakes contain ginger as it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and has a powerful anti-diabetic effect.”

Martin said: “The way I see it, Forest Oaks and Little Haven are people’s homes, and just because they are care homes shouldn't mean that people cannot be involved in meals in some way.

“This can be something small like icing biscuits or a bigger concept like growing vegetables and fruits in raised beds for the kitchen to use.

“My idea for the residents growing vegetables is for one resident to concentrate on one item from planting to harvest. Once served, there will be cards placed out on tables to say these are Bob's tomatoes or Sheila's runner beans. From plant to table the same day, everyone wins.”

Martin realises the people he is serving come from an era where there was no convenience food.

“Most will have lived through a world war and rationing, when people had to be very inventive at meal times,” he continued. “It’s all about giving back some independence and a sense of purpose and belonging.

“Honey Bee Catering is proud to provide the catering services for the Wilverley Association and we look forward to a long and positive partnership with this very worthwhile local charity.

“Our ethos is simple: great quality, fresh ingredients prepared by a skilled team to bring a varied, nutritious home-cooked menu.”

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