Chef Jenny cooks up memories

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Leabank Nursing Home, which has been at the heart of the Ballycastle Community for the past 24 years, has just announced a fantastic new partnership with local celebrity chef Jenny Bristow called Reminiscing with Food.

Launching the initiative at a workshop held at Leabank Home recently, Jenny Bristow hosted food demonstrations cooking six different meals, engaged with residents by inviting them to assist in food preparation and encouraged discussion around childhood food memories, as well as recalling happy mealtimes shared with friends and families.

Kitchen expert Jenny Bristow said: “This is a wonderfully engaging and exciting scheme that has positive benefits in terms of both mental and physical health for all Leabank residents, staff and their families.

“Food is recognized as a universal language. It’s a great way to get people talking as it’s something we all share and care about. Food is also like a time machine as certain tastes and smells can spark off and help recall long-forgotten memories. That’s why it’s so important for older people to stay involved and in control of their food choices, so they can genuinely enjoy what they eat.

“At our workshop, the conversations around food were wonderfully warm and vivid. We had residents reminiscing about home-made apple pie, gathering blackberries from hedgerows in autumn so their mothers and grannies could make jam, having fruit fool as a treat in summer, waiting in anticipation for baking sodas straight from the griddle and enjoying a big bowl of warm hearty stew in winter.

“Regardless of the dish, overwhelmingly, the key ingredients in every one of their stories was love, family and sharing and the sensation and pleasure of eating. Helping residents connect back to those positive feelings nourishes both the body and soul and that is why I am delighted to be part of this caring and proactive initiative.

“I’m going to incorporate seasonal ingredients including locally-caught fish, home-grown produce and even dulse, to produce stimulating and exciting dishes.

“To keep us all connected and current, we are also launching a food blog on the Macklin website where we will share some of the most popular meals and residents’ best food memories.”

Annette Lindsay, Nurse Manager at Leabank Nursing Home, said: “This latest food initiative will not only improve nutrition, but help people connect with positive memories and encourage social engagement with family, friends and staff. We are delighted to be working with Jenny on this project, and her insight and expertise are invaluable.”