Date of release: 18 June 2021
From cooking for the masses and celebrities, including the likes of George Michael and Raymond Blanc to overseeing the catering production facility at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Mark Farmer has seen it, done it and prepared it when it comes to food!
The 56-year-old, who has been Catering Production Manager for the Trust for six years, has been involved in the food industry for more than three decades. Leading a team of 40 staff based at the Catering Production Unit (CPU) at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton, they produce 21,000 meals amounting to over one million meals a year for our RWT patients at New Cross, West Park Hospital and Cannock Chase Hospital, plus external hospitals such as our neighbouring Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.
The CPU source the best ingredients possible and run a cook chill operation that provides the freshest food, prepared, cooked and despatched to all patients at the above hospitals, seven days per week. Mark believes in a very high standard and his menus compare favourably with many eating out chains, and with a patient survey reporting 98 per cent satisfaction, they have the figures to reinforce his claim.
“I want patients to look at our menu and be enticed with the choice and wholly satisfied with the quality and delivery” said Mark. “For me, it’s about trying to make the meals as healthy and attractive to patients as possible so they get the nutrients to help them with their recovery while they are with us. I eat the food we prepare most days around our retail units and I would be more than happy to take the food we prepare out to certain sectors of the hospitality market place because I firmly believe it would compete very well.”
Mark’s varied experience in the sector means he is someone whose opinion is worth listening to. A trained chef originally from Birmingham, his career has taken him to cooking in acclaimed restaurants such as The Bear Hotel in Woodstock, Oxfordshire and Wheeler’s of St. James’s in London. Mark’s list of celebrity customers is perhaps topped by a request to cater for the more famous half of Wham! when the late pop megastar came to Birmingham.
“It was the after-show party for the Ladies and Gentlemen tour after he played in Birmingham,” recalled Mark. “George and all of his roadshow crew came to Liberty’s where I ran the kitchen. It was a double celebration as it was also his Mum’s birthday. It was a privilege that he chose our venue and they hired out the whole restaurant. The occasion went very well and let’s just say they thoroughly enjoyed it and certainly weren’t on a budget!”
Mark moved into food development and took on the challenge of heading up the menu development and training for brewer Marston’s in Wolverhampton and had a very successful 12 years with the group. After moving into food manufacturing in 2000, Mark then set up his own business in 2004, where he focused on operational kitchen training, recipe development and research. Mark joined the Trust in 2015.
“In joining the NHS organisation, I have tried bring key elements of the hospitality experience to this role and service,” added Mark. “A lot of the team here at the CPU are very experienced and with any new regime, they have had to take on new ideas and approaches which they have delivered fantastically well. The team and the service has developed at a very fast pace over the last six years and I am very proud of the whole team for what they have achieved.”