Saturday 16 December 2017

Michelin-starred chef Oliver Dunne says hospital food project 'will never work'

Oliver Dunne
Oliver Dunne Newsdesk Newsdesk

Michelin-starred chef Oliver Dunne has said his ambitions to improve the quality of hospital food will never be realised.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Ray D'Arcy programme today, the chef said the quality of hospital food will never improve.

Earlier this year, he met with Health Minister Leo Varadkar - but says little has happened with the HSE since.

Read more here: Michelin-starred chef Oliver Dunne visits Mater Hospital Kitchen in campaign to get better food on hospital wards  

He also said he disagreed with suggestions that organic food should be sold in hospitals, describing the idea as "deluded".

He said the answer does not lie with more investment in the catering sections the country's hospitals.

"That's all pie in the sky stuff. We can all say that. The reality is that's unnecessary.

"We just have to get into the hospital and change the way they do things currently and make the food edible," he said.

The chef says the idea to improve hospital food is a genuine passion of his as his wife has spent some time in hospital.

"She is literally only out of hospital a week ago. She was in for another stint. So I'm constantly in hospitals and that's where this all came from. It's a passion thing. It's not about anything else apart.

"I met Leo Varadkar last September and he was very supportive about the whole campaign and put me in touch with a representative from the HSE but we're just  went round in circles and circles and circles.

"No-one's given us permission to go in so I have to go to someone else in the 'comms' department and then you find out about the layers and layers of [bureaucracy]."

According to Dunne, making hospital food edible does not mean the introduction of more vegetables and greens.

"There's no amount of vegetables and carrots that's going to cure anyone from a disease or illness or whatever they're in hospital for.

"Hospital is about the consumption food and calories in most places. it's just about having food that's edible - that they don't become malnourished.

Read more here: Chef Oliver Dunne pays visit to Mater Hospital kitchen in campaign to improve ward meals 

The chef said health and nutrition are two separate entities - and because somebody works on a medical team, it does not mean they have any real understanding of nutrition.

"We're still pushing at it but they're gone silent," he said.

Dunne releaved last week how he will lose his Michelin star on his own terms, on September 17.

" will always be grateful to the Michelin Guide for awarding Bon Appetit its star.  That star has opened a lot of doors for me, but every dog has its day and the dining scene has dramatically changed in Ireland since 2008. I intend to keep Bon Appetit at the forefront of dining in Ireland and we will always deliver the best product we can to our amazing loyal and ever-evolving customers."

"We just won’t have a star," he said in a statement on Bon Appetit's website.

"The 2015 guide comes out on September 17th and this chef will be raising a glass of Champagne and celebrating with his staff and my family as it will be a special day for me. A day of reflecting on the madness of the last 20 years with great fondness and I’ll always be proud of the fact that I did it."

"But just as it was important to me to win the star on my terms, it’s equally important to relinquish it on my terms. And I know that Bon Appetit is so much better in its current form than it ever was; and our future is really, really bright."

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