A day in the life of our Catering team

Donna Avery, Catering Manager

The catering team at our CQC rated Outstanding hospital is responsible for providing a first-class service to patients, visitors, and staff.

The team works in the Pavilion restaurant, which is open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm and on Saturday from 8.30am to 3pm. They also support our local ward kitchen, which is stocked for 24-hour service so that evening staff can cater for our inpatients overnight.

The team serves up 200 meals a day to our outpatients, visitors, and staff and 30 meals a day to inpatients, as well as providing light refreshments to our day surgery patients.

We spoke to Catering Manager Donna Avery (pictured), who has worked at the hospital for over 30 years, to find out what it means to be a part of this important team. Donna heads up the team and manages 13 members of staff who work varied hours to cover the 12 and a half hours’ service that we provide to our patients, staff and visitors.

What is a typical day in the catering team?

  • Breakfast service: 8am to 11am
  • Lunch service: midday to 2pm
  • Evening meal: 5.50pm

Most of the team starts at 7.30am so we can prepare for the breakfast service in both the Pavilion and on the ward. We serve a range of hot and cold breakfast options from our full English to poached eggs and cereals, croissants and yoghurts.

Breakfast is served on the wards from 7.45am. Patients choose their meals from our menu the evening before, and this is freshly prepared and taken to their room in the morning.

Lunch is a busy time for the team as we prepare a varied lunch menu, including healthy cooked options and salads.

What roles are available in the catering team?

We currently have vacancies for Flexi-Bank catering assistants, which allows you to work flexibly and choose from shifts that are offered to you.

What does the catering assistant role involve?

Your main responsibilities will include preparing and serving food to Pavilion visitors and patients, keeping food preparation and service areas clean and taking payment for meals and beverages.

You might also need to receive goods when they arrive to the kitchen and ensure that they’re stored correctly.

Most importantly, you’ll need to ensure that food safety and hygiene standards are met so that we maintain our 5* rating.

What skills and experience do I need?

You should have experience in dealing with high volume food production, ideally having worked in catering for a hospital, hotel, or restaurant. Ideally you will have Level 2 qualification in Food Safety and be able to prioritise multiple tasks. Although you’ll be part of a supportive team, there may be times that you need to work on your own, so you’ll need to be proactive with plenty of initiative.

You’ll also need to be able to communicate with people of all ages and from all walks of life, so a positive attitude and plenty of diplomacy and tact is key.

How important is good customer service in any catering role?

Good customer service is important to me and to the rest of the team. We’re very aware of the needs of our customers, including their dietary preferences, any cultural or religious dietary needs, allergens etc.

Why might someone want to work in the catering team at Benenden Hospital?

Just the ambience of the hospital makes it a great place to work. It’s set in the most beautiful grounds so it’s a pleasure to come to work each day.

The catering is of the highest standard and we have a 5* hygiene rating which we’re very proud of.

As part of the catering team, you get to interact with so many other departments. Working here feels like being part of a big family, where patients are at the heart of everything we do.

Is training offered?

When you join the team, you’ll be offered a training programme run by a senior member of the catering team. The role is varied, so you’d be trained to work in all areas of catering.

If you’re interested in joining our catering team, vacancies are advertised on the Management and Support staff and Flexi-Bank careers pages.

Published on 29 July 2022