24 October 2023
With 15 years’ experience as a chef and a passion for making a difference through food, we dive deeper into how Matt Dodds, our Culinary Support Manager, is using his experience to support our clients within the private healthcare sector.
My role at Foodbuy is Culinary Support Manager for a client within the Private Healthcare sector. This means that I sit between the Client Account Management team and the client’s chefs and services teams. My role includes chef development, meaning I work alongside chefs in a range of areas. I also test out new products with chefs, to see how they can get the best use out of a product and offer ingredient advice for kitchens that are struggling to achieve their budgets, allowing the client to see where they can cut costs.
My experience as a chef is incredibly valuable in this role, as I am able to support our Account Managers with recommending products and ingredients, but also have the expertise to support my clients on the operational side of things, such as supporting with recruitment, equipment, pricing and more.
I have been a chef for around 15 years. I started off as a waiter and worked my way up. Through this, I ended up being offered an amazing training opportunity within a high-end kitchen, where I learnt how to cook from top level chefs. From this, I realised I had a specific passion for baking, pastry, and desserts, so this became my passion. I learnt some amazing skills, including sugar craft, airbrushing and more. At 19, I became a sous chef, which was a gateway into more rustic, gastro-style cooking. From this, I became a head chef for around 5 years.
This journey means I have experience in a wide range of different culinary environments, which was ideal when I moved into a private healthcare setting. I fell in love with the sector as the job satisfaction is huge – by delivering good food, I was actively making a positive difference in someone’s life. For residents and patients, food is a form of entertainment and of course, it can extend life. I have learnt that I prefer cooking when it has the benefit of providing a better quality of life.
I am proud that this passion ultimately led to me winning the Bupa Principal Menu Award, which is essentially a MasterChef equivalent for the healthcare sector, which I won two years running. I was also given the regional award for a NACC ‘Chef of the Year’ Award, which I went on to place second in the national final, being awarded best main course overall.
It’s a nice mix of being in the office in Chertsey, and on site with my client. It is ideal for me that this role involves me being in kitchens 3-4 days a week. My 15 years of experience in kitchens means that getting to collaborate with chefs face to face has a real impact - being able to talk ‘chef to chef’ and come into a kitchen as someone who fully understands kitchen culture is incredibly valuable. It ensures I can fully understand my client’s needs. This ultimately adds a higher level of understanding and communication to Foodbuy’s relationship with the client.
Being there in person means that I can support them by doing what I love doing - trying out new products and ingredients, pushing for culinary development and bringing innovative solutions directly to the client.
As you can imagine, being involved in the culinary operations within a healthcare setting is busy, as it’s an environment in which food is often critical to the needs of the residents. Nutrition is key, as due to the nature of the environment there’s always a wide range of dietary requirements. This is where I would say the culinary support can be hugely helpful to the client. To put this in perspective, I’ve worked with a client who has 22 different menu files to follow, each with a different requirement.
Creating inclusive menus is incredibly important. In this environment, a medical condition can cause someone to have a different dietary requirement. My mindset is why should a meal be different for someone who has a medical condition? I’ve seen first-hand how this segregation can cause bad eating habits. Therefore, we try to align the alternative menus to be as in line with regular menus as possible, ensuring that recipes are inclusive and nutritious.
Foodbuy is the first team that I’ve been a part of in which I can see myself building a long-term career. It is different for me to be in an office-based role; however, I am enjoying being able to utilise my experience in a different way. Chefs are renowned for moving around a lot. There is a hugely welcoming feeling at Foodbuy – the team is great, and everyone is very friendly. Alongside this, the chance to have a positive impact on my client’s business is hugely rewarding.
If you'd like to learn more about our culinary support services and how we can help your business, please reach out to Gordon Turner at Gordon.firstname.lastname@example.org