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GALLERY: For one day only Theo Michaels brings his ‘pop up restaurant’ to Wisbech

Theo Michaels is a former BBC MasterChef finalist

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It was a sunny day, the wine and conversation flowed, the restaurant looked stunning and with lunch being prepared by no less than by celebrity chef Theo Michaels there was much to enjoy. The other lunch guests agreed, many absorbed by the colourful dining room and some even donning hats and other props to reflect the Italian themed menu.

And all of this was happening in Wisbech. Not in a restaurant but in the dining room of the town’s most recent care home, Barton Manor in Barton Road.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

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It was a superlative ‘pop up’ restaurant.

Behind the lunch is a story of how the home’s owners (they have 18 others across the country open or some about to open) signed up Theo to become their ambassador to champion the thought, and put into practice, the case for bringing variety and added enjoyment to traditional ideas of care home food.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Theo is boldly going where few – if any – celebrity chefs have gone before.

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And since taking on this ‘ambassadorial’ role earlier in the year has introduced Danforth care homes residents to an international feast.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“It’s a round the world project,” he tells me “taking the residents on culinary escapism and offering a slightly different menu to the norm.

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Other Danforth care homes have been, or on his schedule to experience, Mexican, Greek, Asian and India lunches as “we tap into loads of different cuisines

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

“It’s an immersive experience for the guests, with cocktails before lunch and all the decorations”.

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Recently he had helped prepare a Spanish meal at one of the company’s care homes, complete with Flamenco dancers to round off the evening.

“It’s an all-consuming experience,” he says.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

So how did he become, at least temporarily, a care home chef?

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The story began last year when Sally Dowers, Barton’s front of house manager, attended an awards dinner in London last year with her husband.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

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Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Sally’s husband works for a Lincolnshire company, and it was their second time at the London awards dinner held at Draper’s Hall.

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“The previous year we had Eddie the Eagle as our guest speaker,” she says. “On the way to London I asked who it was this year, and he said Theo Michaels.”

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Sally, an avid amateur cook, knew of Theo, a former MasterChef finalist, from his TV shows that include Big Zuu’s Big Eats, ITV’s This Morning and Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel Four.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

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“On the night, and during speech, Theo mentioned something about care homes,” says Sally. “Not one to miss an opportunity, as everyone stood to applaud him as he finished, I went to find him.”

She met and explained to Theo that she worked for a care home, suggested he might “do for care homes what Jamie Oliver did for schools”.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

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Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Terry Harris

Sally gave him her details, and emails, Danforth liked the idea, picked it up and ran with it and “now he’s an ambassador for our company, going round our homes, and working with our staff on nutritional food for care home residents”.

Which explains how Theo, as part of his new role, came to be working with Barton Care Home kitchen staff to prepare our lunch which had a roasted tomato and goat cheese bruschetta to begin, followed by ricotta gnocchi and polished off with a lovely vanilla panna cotta with raspberry coulis.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. On the right is the 3-course lunch he helped prepare and serve PHOTO: Wisbech Tweet

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. On the right is the 3-course lunch he helped prepare and serve PHOTO: Wisbech Tweet

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A spokesperson for Danforth Care Home added: “In addition to delighting our taste buds, Theo will also be working closely with our talented chefs, immersing himself in the world of care hospitality and cuisine.

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour - to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Barton Manor Care Home

Celebrity chef Theo Michaels brought an Italian theme – and flavour – to Barton Care Home, Wisbech. PHOTO: Barton Manor Care Home

“Together, they’ll explore how to create memorable dining experiences that nourish both body and soul.

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“We’re incredibly excited to embark on this journey with Theo.”

 

 

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