A talented chef who once cooked for Sir Paul McCartney has clinched a gold trophy at the social care ‘Oscars.’
Jamie Parker-Evans is overjoyed to have received the top honour recognising his outstanding catering skills at the Wales Care Awards 2022.
After being presented with his accolade he said he was hugely surprised to have come away with the gold prize given the high standard of other contenders.
His gleaming trophy is now proudly displayed in the entrance at Capel Grange Nursing Home, Newport, where Jamie is Head Chef.
Jamie said: “I was delighted to meet the other chefs on the shortlist for an award. They were lovely, friendly people, we all had a good chat and it was immediately clear to me that they are so good at what they do. I thought there was no chance I would get the gold.
“I was amazed when my name was called. To be honest it is all still a blur. I can hardly believe it.”
Supported by lead sponsor Ontex UK, and organised by care industry champions Care Forum Wales, the annual Wales Care Awards celebrate exceptional work of those in the care sector.
Jamie triumphed in the Excellence in Catering category, sponsored by Harlech Foodservice and modestly said the trophy was as much a tribute to his top class team as to himself.
He said: “I have a really great crew who are all excellent at what they do. If it were not for them then we couldn’t achieve the quality of meals that we do. They are all gold winners.”
He was nominated for an award by Edgar Bautista, Head of Nursing at Linc Cymru which owns Capel Grange.
Edgar said Jamie’s commitment to his role is obvious to all who work there.
He said: “He and his team make everything from scratch, including purees and liquid meals, to keep the vitamin and nutrient content high and ensure all residents are eating the same, high-quality food.
“Getting to know who he’s cooking for is also paramount for Jamie. A couple of weeks after a resident has moved in, he meets with them and their family, to find out about their likes and dislikes. He also notes any cultural differences. For example, one lady has an Italian background, so Jamie tweaked his four-week rolling menu to include some Italian dishes.
“On top of this, every resident is presented with a special, homemade cake on their birthday, which Jamie likes to decorate according to their interests.”
The awards presentation was live streamed online and the host for the evening was popular tenor, Wynne Evans, aka Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV advertisements.
Also present was superstar operatic baritone Sir Bryn Terfel and Wales First Minister Mark Drayford.
Jamie, 33, first became a chef after he was talent-spotted as a teenager when entered by his school into a cookery competition to find a future star chef of Wales.
Then aged 14 he reached the Wales finals of the contest where he was pipped to the post by just half a point. But at the competition young Jamie so impressed the training manager at five-star Celtic Manor Resort Hotel, in Newport, that he immediately offered him an apprenticeship.
Jamie said: “A week after I finished school I was working at Celtic Manor in a team which included some of the best chefs in Britain. I couldn’t have wished for a better start.”
Jamie was later selected to chef for music superstar Sir Paul McCartney and his family when they stayed in the hotel’s presidential suite for a weekend.
Later he worked abroad, including at a beach hotel in Corsica and an alpine ski resort in Tignes, France, before returning to his native Wales.
He said moving from hospitality into the care sector has been a challenge but one which he has relished.
He said: “I really enjoy working at Capel Grange, it is a great place. I love meeting our residents and listening to their opinions. They are the best of food critics, never shy of telling me if something tastes difference to what it did the last time we made it. They really keep us on our toes.”
Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the ceremony was all the more poignant because of the Covid pandemic and what front line staff had endured.
He said: “I would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to all the wonderful people who work in social care after they rose magnificently and courageously to meet the unprecedented challenges they have faced over the past couple of years.
“We have always recognised their true value and hopefully now the rest of Wales is also aware of how lucky we are as a nation to have them providing care and safeguarding our most vulnerable people.
“Our finalists are the best of the best and are here representing the whole social care workforce who all deserve a big pat on the back.
“There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.
“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights in the months and years to come.
“In the words of the powerful song, Heroes of our Heart, written by the acclaimed poet Mererid Hopwood and sung by Sir Bryn Terfel, let the Diolch last forever.
“We take our hats off to them.”