becky cabotA good cook can be the difference between a house and a home. Just ask Rebecca McPherson, who is the master cook at our Cabot House service.

Rebecca, aka Becky, has been working with us for 3 years and is currently General Assistant at the service. We decided to find out exactly what goes into her role here and how her work and cooking benefits the home and its residents.

What does a typical day look like for you?

First thing I do when I get to work is begin the preparations for lunch. I like to start early because if lunch isn’t out by 12.30pm I will have residents wondering where their food is!

As soon as lunch comes out everyone, including staff, sits around the dining room table. It’s one of the best parts of working here – it’s lovely seeing everyone come together and relax like one big family (even if it is only for 20 minutes).

After lunch, it’s on to dinner prep. Again, if it isn’t out by 5 o’clock, everyone is sat around the table waiting for their dinner! I’m happy to work to their tight schedule, as dinner is another time of the day when everyone has the chance to sit at the table and relax. So it’s great being the one who is able to make that happen.

When I’m not in the kitchen, I help out around the house and sometimes get to join in on activities. It doesn’t take long for me to be questioned ‘what’s for dinner?’ though!

How did you get into working with people with learning disabilities?

I first got into working with people with learning disabilities when I had just come out of University at the age of 21. It wasn’t my ambition at first and I hadn’t even thought about a career in this sector. I came across the job one day and it hit me: ‘this sounds like the perfect job for me’. I love to cook and, not only that, but the role would give me the opportunity to expand my knowledge on working with people with learning disabilities.

Have you always been a keen cook?

I have always loved cooking. I remember when I was little you could always find me in the kitchen at my nan and grandad’s house, sitting on the floor mixing cake batter. My whole family likes cooking so making dinner from scratch has always been a big part of life for me.

I’ve also learnt so many things from staff at Cabot house. We hold a cultural night on the first Monday of every month. This gives each member of staff the opportunity to teach everyone else about their culture or even just to show us how to cook their favourite recipe! I’m so grateful to have been equipped with cooking knowledge from around the world.

How does cooking help your role?

A lot seems to revolve around food, especially at Cabot house. It’s very rewarding working with people who really enjoy food and I have learnt so much in the past 2 and a half years. It’s also nice to be able to bring people together over food. I believe that it’s all the more important for adults with learning disabilities to have that opportunity to come together at the dinner table and allow that sense of togetherness.

Do you encourage residents to help out?

I do encourage residents to help out. We like to make an activity out of it. Sometimes they make cakes for their parents. We have even made pizzas for dinner in the past – and everyone helped out.

It’s really rewarding seeing residents proud of what they have made and I love watching them smile and teaching them new skills. It doesn’t always go to plan, sometimes I’m sitting round the table with about 50 biscuits, decorating them myself.

What’s the most extravagant thing you’ve baked?

I do enjoy baking cakes. I have made a few birthday cakes at Cabot house. Some are a bit colourful! 

Are there any special recipes/ cook books that you use?

To be honest, I don’t often use recipes. A lot of what I have learnt has come from me learning recipes from my mum and my sister who are also keen cooks. If I need to cook something that I’m not familiar with though, I like to use the BBC good food website. My favourite recipe at the moment is Tandoori Chicken, it’s so simple to do and delicious!