Matt Dodge, Executive Chef at Chelsea Court Place in London, has just finished filming for a new Channel 4 documentary which aims to open the eyes of employers to the abilities of individuals with early onset dementia.
The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes took over Bristol’s renowned eatery The Station for five weeks, offering diners a lunchtime service staffed both front of house and in the kitchen by volunteers living with the diagnosis.
The ‘face’ of the programme is Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton who, with five restaurants in Bristol, took on the restaurateur role while Matt was in charge of the kitchen. “The programme makers were looking for someone with experience of cooking and also experience of being around people living with dementia,” says Matt, who is used to helping the residents and service users at Chelsea Court Place – a specialist memory care residence and day club situated on the King’s Road in Chelsea – enjoy activities such as baking, sushi making and food preparation.
Currently there are more than 40,000 people under the age of 65 living with dementia in the UK; only a fifth of them have continued to work past their diagnosis and this is something the team behind The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes wants to change.
All 15 of the volunteers – aged between 23-67 – want to go on to some kind of employment or charity work following their experience, says Matt. “Their confidence improved dramatically; it has actually changed lives.”
The programme is due to air in spring 2019, while the Spring issue of Care Home Catering will carry an interview with Matt Dodge who explains more about how the social experiment came about, what the volunteers achieved during their stint ‘at the coalface’ and the positive impact it had on them.