A day in the life of our catering manager

Join Carl for a busy day at the hospice

Hi, I’m Carl, the catering manager at Prospect Hospice. I’ve been here for just over a year and before that I’ve worked across various roles in the hospitality sector.


I arrive at the hospice and start the day, alongside my colleague, Janet. The first thing we do every morning is check all of our equipment is in working order and sign off all safety documentation. We’ll also often have a delivery from our local grocer waiting to be put away. One of the team then sets up the Heart of the Hospice café for the day, checking that all the tables are clean and that the tea and coffee unit is fully stocked. We then check the pantry in the inpatient unit (IPU) is clean and fully stocked, ready for healthcare assistants to use for our patients, and drop off the daily menus so that our IPU patients can select their lunch and supper options. They always have two options for starter, three options for main, and three options for dessert.


I review our plan for the day, checking over the menus and for any food orders or meetings we need to prepare for. Today we have an external catering order to make – a mezze platter for 10 people and I’ll do this before 9am. Throughout the morning, we also receive telephone requests for patient’s breakfasts, and so far we have had one patient request some scrambled eggs.


Today, our facilities team is working off-site and they have asked us to prepare packed lunches for them. We know exactly what they like – Bryan will have a cheese, ham, and onion sandwich with a Diet Coke and a packet of cheese and onion crisps, while Mark will have a cheese and ham sandwich with a Coke and beef crisps. They look after us, so we look after them!


It’s time to start making the sandwiches for the café. I’ll also make the salads for the café – today, we have chickpea falafel salad and tuna nicoise salad. I’ll then put the sandwiches and salads in the fridge in the café for people to buy from 11.30am.


Tina from the communications and engagement team comes into the kitchen and asks if I’ve prepared a menu for the BBQ at our garden fete, so she can include it in the programme. I have to plan what we’re going to serve at events like this quite far in advance so we can order in the right ingredients, so I leave the kitchen to go to the computer and send her the menu.


My colleague Fred has already been preparing hot lunches for the day, and at this point I will help him and get the last things ready. Today’s menu options are beef casserole, Thai green chicken curry, and vegetable casserole, along with our usual jacket potatoes. We like to have something different every day so there is always something new for our guests and visitors to try.


We start serving lunch in the Heart of the Hospice café, and will continue service until 2pm. There are quite a few customers in the café today which is lovely to see. During lunch service, we may need to replenish some items if they’re popular – usually the chips!


We make sure lunch is ready for volunteers to serve to our patients staying with us at the hospice. They’ll have put their order in earlier and will have been able to choose from the list we serve in the café as well as a few other options. For those with special dietary requirements, those who require pureed meals or those who don’t eat very much, we can provide a tailored meal for them to suit what they need.


Lunch service ends and the Heart of the Hospice café is quiet again. The beef casserole was very popular today and most of our sandwiches sold too. Now it’s time to clean down the kitchen, and do any necessary preparation for tomorrow.


Once the kitchen is cleaned, I spend some time checking my emails, seeing if we have had any external catering orders or if anyone has booked onto our Sunday lunch, which we hold monthly. I’ll also take some time to look at the team rota to ensure we have the right cover across the rest of the week.


I have a few meetings to discuss investment in some new kitchen equipment and business plans. It’s not just about the cooking – I also need to ensure we have the best facilities we can to provide the best service to our patients.

3pm to 6pm

During these hours, I prepare ad hoc meal requests from our patients and stock up for the next day.


The pre-ordered supper is served to our IPU patients.


The end of a long but rewarding day! I won’t always be at the hospice until 6.30pm, but two of our team members are on holiday, so I’m making sure everything gets done for the day.


Please note that this ‘a day in the life’ piece was written in early September 2023, so some of the events mentioned may have already taken place. Check our events calendar for more information.