TV Chef, James Martin, To Spice Up Hospital Food

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Celebrity chef James Martin's positive experience of transforming patient food at his hometown hospital has inspired him to help other NHS Trusts, the TV cook has said.

Martin said after helping to reinvigorate the staff and menus at Scarborough General Hospital in North Yorkshire earlier this year he was looking to work with six others in 2012.

His comments came as he attended a reception hosted by the Prince of Wales to highlight hospitals which are supporting the Soil Association's campaign to improve dishes served to patients.

Martin spent 12 weeks working with catering staff from Scarborough General and his efforts were featured in a BBC programme.

Speaking during the Clarence House reception which featured chief executives, catering managers and nutritionists from 14 hospitals around the country who have added fresh and local produce to their menus, he said: "It's going back to the old roots of food as medicine. It's so important in terms of nutrition and vitamins.

"One of the members of my family is in hospital and it's important she likes the food. If the soup is like dishwater she's not going to get any better."

The chef described how when he arrived at Scarborough General catering staff were set in their ways serving packet soups and frozen omelettes to patients and how very little food was fresh or sourced locally but he has helped them change the regime around.

He said: "Some of the staff had been there 27 years, we needed to make them fall in love with food again and get away from packets and frozen omelettes so I took them to a farm. It's easy to throw mud at the NHS but 98% of my work was trying to win people over and 2% was changing the food."

Mike Proctor the chief executive of Scarborough Hospital praised the work of the TV chef, he said: "If we'd tried to do this ourselves it would have taken a long time.

"The quality of the food - locally produced, locally sourced - is far superior now and the catering staff are more fulfilled in what they are now cooking and we've had fantastic feedback from patients and staff."

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