Joys of roasting 352lbs of turkey and 2,000 potatoes

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We all know the complications of cooking Christmas Dinner.

Getting all the best ingredients, putting the turkey in at the right time, making sure everything is ready to serve – it’s a minefield where anything can go wrong.

But put Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Darren Cadwell and his team of four chefs in charge and it’s guaranteed to go like a dream – even when 700 staff turn up to eat when Christmas Dinner is served for the staff.

Juggling 352lbs of turkey, 132lbs of veg, 2,000 roast potatoes to say nothing of 21 gallons of gravy is not for the faint hearted.

But the team at the hospital take it all in their stride – and manage to serve another 700 patients with their normal three meals a day at the same time!

“The initial preparation for Christmas Dinner starts in early November,” said Darren, kitchen manager at the Vic. “This year we have a record number of diners – and they all need to be fed within a two hour time slot.”

But I take the family out to eat!

Darren and the team start at 5am as the lorries arrive bringing in the provisions. Then the major food prep starts.

“We get a real sense of satisfaction from cooking Christmas dinner, the whole team really pulls together to make the meal special.”

While for most of us Christmas coming once a year is quite enough – but Darren and his team repeat the whole exercise again on Christmas Day when they cook for around 650 patients.

And when he gets home at around 5pm: “I have my Christmas dinner,” says Darren. “But I take the family out to eat!”