Oliver Dunne: Hospital food has to be healthy and tasty
Michelin-starred chef Oliver Dunne believes hospital food must be tasty as well as nutritious.
Dunne, who told the Herald he is pressing ahead with his plans to ensure better food is provided on wards, recently discussed his concerns with the HSE.
"We're pushing forward with it," he said. "There are huge changes ahead from the HSE's point of view in terms of health and nutrition and there's massive work being done on it for the first time ever, so that's very positive."
Dunne visited the Mater Hospital earlier this year to look at the facilities.
However, next up will be an in-depth look at menus and a new focus on nutrition.
"I would love to help draw up the menus. There are so many different dietary requirements within the hospital setting," he said.
"There can be 10 different special needs requirements in terms of food. The plan would be to come up with ideas that would cover everybody.
"For me, taste is a hugely important factor. It hasn't been an important factor - it's been about nutrition, and that's not good enough. Just because something is nutritionally sound doesn't mean it tastes nice.
"If it doesn't taste nice, nobody eats it. It's irrelevant what the nutritional content is.
"Presentation also needs to be looked at, as well as the whole nutrition side of things. There's a huge commitment to this, so it's all positive."
Dunne said he hopes to be going into another Dublin hospital soon to move the project forward.
"Getting people on board is the key to this work. The guys doing it every day have to get on board and believe in it," he said.
"There's no point in me doing it and just saying 'here you go then'.
"It's a case of me working with them and creating a menu that's suitable and within budget and to structure it and write everything down and standardise it and make sure everything is the same.
"Hopefully, it will be proven to be a good exercise and it can be pushed out further across the HSE."