Norfolk and Norwich Hospital’s new gourmet pop up restaurant to raise funds for oncology ward
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
It's not the first place you'd think of if you were looking for high-class hospitality and fine dining but the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is planning a very different kind of operation in its restaurant next month. STACIA BRIGGS finds out what's popping up at the NNUH.
It's a gourmet restaurant with a difference, a chance to enjoy high-end food and service in very unusual surroundings – the busy Norfolk and Norwich University hospital canteen.
The hospital's restaurants serve more than 2,000 people every day and while standards are incredibly high and staff pride themselves on exemplary service, the emphasis is on simple, nutritious food served quickly: there are no pristine tablecloths, no sparkling glassware and definitely no full table service.
Until now, that is. Because from noon until 2.30pm on October 2, the hospital's main restaurant in the west atrium will be transformed into a very exclusive pop-up restaurant courtesy of Serco's own culinary team and two visiting teams from The Assembly House in Norwich and The Lavender House restaurant in Brundall.
Diners will be able to enjoy a whistle-stop gourmet lunch as part of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival while raising funds for the hospital's Targeted Radiotherapy Appeal.
Richard Hughes, chef proprietor of The Lavender House restaurant, director at The Assembly House and food festival patron has been working with the NNUH and Serco to improve hospital food for more than 18 months. 'Other restaurants may have Michelin stars and AA rosettes but the NNUH has the most important restaurant in the county because what is prepared here makes a real difference to people's health and in turn their lives,' said Mr Hughes, who said that more than 2,000 people visit the hospital's restaurants every day.
'Good food is as essential to health, wellbeing and recovery as the treatment and care that patients receive while they're at hospital and we want the food to reflect that top-class treatment. Our pop-up event is a one-off and a bit of fun for everyone involved, but we are committed to continuing to work as hard as possible to raise standards in hospital food.
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'If we're honest, most of us wouldn't choose to eat at a hospital and the diners we serve aren't always in the best frame of mind and so the catering teams are dealing with customers who would rather be eating at home, which isn't what we restaurateurs are used to!
'We have lots of ideas and the project is ongoing – with Serco, we're hoping to bring in a new scheme whereby patients who are able can take their meal in the restaurant alongside their family and friends. It sounds simple, but it's actually groundbreaking and could transform many people's experiences of eating in hospital.'
The pop-up event will not only showcase the talents of Serco head chef Jon Batchelor and Mr Hughes' teams from The Assembly House and The Lavender House but will also raise funds for a cause which is very close to home.
Guests will be invited to pay what they feel the food deserves and 25 per cent of the cash raised will go to the NNUH's Targeted Radiotherapy Appeal, which will help local cancer patients.
The appeal is looking to raise £600,000 to help improve services for local patients living with cancer by using a type of radiotherapy which reduces treatment times and allows patients to be treated closer to home.
Currently, patients have to travel to London and Cambridge for the specialised brachytherapy treatment. The service is currently only available to patients with cervical cancer, but the NNUH wants to be able to offer it to men with prostate cancer and, in the future, for other cancers such as colon, oesophageal and lung.
Brachytherapy can shorten the treatment time for prostate cancer from seven-and-a-half weeks to just three weeks.
'We are all looking forward to serving up some very special food in the restaurant for the food festival,' said Mr Batchelor, 'tables are already booking up and we've been overwhelmed with the support we've had for an event which we hope will raise some much-need cash for hospital equipment.
'It's a nice way to celebrate what we do in the restaurants every single day – create food which we hope will tempt people to eat and play its part in making people recover faster or stay well for longer in their jobs. We know how important the food we give people at the hospital is, and every day we try to improve what we have on offer.
'Providing appropriate nutrition in a hospital is challenging due to the diverse dietary needs of the people we serve – food not only needs to meet individual nutritional requirements, it needs to be appropriate for different age groups, religious, cultural and social backgrounds and different medical conditions.
'On top of that, it obviously needs to be tasty, readily available to ensure that it is eaten and enjoyed. It's a challenge, but one that we're tackling head-on with input from staff, our dietitians and, most importantly, our patients.'
• The festival pop-up lunch will take approximately one hour. Tables are limited, to check availability and to book a table email email@example.com.