With 200 residents, 300 members of staff and non-stop opening hours 365 days a year, Nightingale House could be the biggest kosher catering operation in the country. As a result, last October the Clapham Jewish care home opened a new £900,000 kosher kitchen to cater for its large residential community.
Nightingale Hammerson chief executive Leon Smith said: “Having seen the fantastic new kitchen, which has come out of the generosity of the community, and seen how efficient it is, I wish it was something we did earlier.”
During the build, which took four months to complete, Nightingale House kept meals simmering using make-shift kitchens.
The final product is a “mirror design” of two kitchens kept separate but facing each other — for meat and milk — replete with steel equipment.
Under chef Rudy Robinet, the Caterplus team make meals for eight dining rooms catering for all residents — 75 per cent of which are female, predominantly over the age of 90, from various backgrounds — so the kitchen is under great pressure to produce desirable food en masse. Mr Smith commented: “Depending where each resident came from, their recipe for gefilte fish is very different.” Nightingale offers residents the opportunity to teach the chefs in shared cooking classes once a month.
The kitchen will be koshered for Passover. A religious adviser will oversee a deep clean of kitchen appliances and surfaces, the steaming of floors, replacement of all cutlery and crockery and the opening of a special Pesach store room which will only contain kosher-for-Pesach products, including 700kg of matzah. The kitchen will not only feed the residents kosher for Pesach meals but will cater for seders organised at the home to create a “family, community feel over Pesach”.
To raise money for such a “big operation” Nightingale — which last year merged with the Hammerson in East Finchley — has launched its annual Pesach appeal asking supporters to choose items they would like to fund: £25 for 46kg of potatoes, £30 for 38 litres of milk, £40 for 6kg of butter, £288 for 110kg of matzah and more.
Nightingale Hammerson hopes to raise £75,000 over the festival.