Dormy House Chefs perfect Puréed Food

Residents with dysphagia at Dormy House care home in Sunningdale are clearing their plates with gusto and gaining weight, thanks to the catering team’s development of restaurant standard puréed food.

Head Chef Steve Harding, spent more than 30 years working in top restaurants, hotels and his own pubs before joining the team at Dormy House over three years ago. Significantly, some of these establishments were the proud holders of Michelin and RAC Rosette recommendations.

Mindful of the gap between the standard of the puréed food for residents with dysphagia and the restaurant-style meals served to those with a normal swallowing reflex, Steve set himself the challenge of addressing the imbalance.

Perfectionist Steve trained himself on the subject of purées, becoming a ‘reflective practitioner’ while exploring and experimenting with different recipes and methods. Working closely with his fellow chefs, it took around a year to find the winning approach to create a consistent food texture that satisfies the criteria of category C thick puréed dysphagia diet. Now the team is proud to say: “We won’t serve any food that we wouldn’t eat ourselves.”

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From layered vegetable lasagne to pork belly with pear jelly and black pudding, the puréed food is beautifully presented and appetising. What’s more it is made from portions of the meals prepared for everyone else at Dormy House. Using moulds from Chef Express and others that Steve sourced himself, they find their gourmet food is less time consuming to create than other pureeing methods.

 “The art is in the presentation and flavor,” says Steve.  “I have been dealing with this style of food, presentation-wise, all of my life; it’s just the consistency that’s different.”

“The technical side of producing such food is quite easy, but understanding correct consistencies, and how people engage with food and mealtimes, is more complex.”

Consideration of dignity and respect features highly on the catering team’s attitude to creating delicious dishes. Around 95% of residents with swallowing difficulties eat in the dining room at Dormy House. It is important to them that their meals don’t look too different, and the chefs take care to ensure that residents understand they are eating regular food, just in a different form.

The new menu has had undeniable impact. Both residents and care team members are very happy with the transformed meals and subsequent mood life they engender, while evidence obtained over the last eight months shows some weight gains.

“It’s been very positive,” declares Steve. “We have nutritional meetings weekly, we are getting compliments and people’s plates are coming back empty or half empty, so there’s less waste too.”

Having worked so hard to perfect their purees, Steve and his team are now sharing their secret with other chefs in Caring Homes care home across the UK.

Although he had planned to retire, Steve is glad that was enticed by this new challenge.

He says: “Working in a care home kitchen was something completely different for me and I thought ‘maybe I can make a difference’.” Everyone at Dormy House would agree that he’s certainly done that.

At Dormy House care home in Sunningdale we offer the highest standards of residential, nursing and specialist dementia care for elderly residents.

If you would like to find out more about life at Dormy House, please contact us on 0808 223 5424 or via email to

Dormy House

Home Manager

Joanne Gullon


Ridgemount Road,

0808 223 5424
View care home

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