Chef Shay has been working in the Depaul kitchens for 26 years, in our Back Lane hostel. Here he takes us inside a Depaul kitchen, and tells us just how a hearty and healthy meal is crucial for someone who has come in from the cold.
When a Depaul service user comes to a Depaul high-support accommodation, they are supported with a warm bed, three meals a day and as many cups of tea as they need. These are the fundamentals for someone who may have spent a long time without a stable place to rest, or may have trouble looking after themselves.
Chef Shay focuses on the basics – good, simple, nutritious food.
“Some people come in, you know, after being months on the street and they’re not in the best of health.”
“Nutrition is very, very, very important to me and to get the people built up. We serve them the the freshest and the best of food we can. The meat comes in every day it’s cooked, fresh vegetables, fresh potatoes, parsley sauces, pasta, anything like that.”
Because food is good for the body and the mind.
“At the end of the day, that’s what they’re really and truly looking forward to is a nice home-cooked meal. Nothing over the top nothing special just plain home-cooked stuff. It might remind them of home, and that’s important to us.
Chef Shay spends each day at the hatch in the kitchen in Back Lane, meeting with everyone who passes through for a meal. He describes the difference even a few weeks of good food and support can provide to someone.
“Now you can see a man after a couple of weeks he’ll slowly start to getting in better form joking a little bit, coming out of his shell, and that’s when you know somebody is sort of settling in and they feel comfortable and safe again, that they’re in off the streets.”
The best outcome for someone who comes through the door of Back Lane, will always be helping them to move on to a home of their own.
“Sometimes when they’re moving on they might say, ‘Look buddy, thanks so much for making our life so good here you’ve took me out of the gutter’.
“It’s a group effort. The people we help here, they’re like family, so if they’re happy, I’m happy because I’m doing my job that I’m meant to be doing for Depaul as Head Chef and turning out good food.”
Of course, this would not be possible without the kindness and compassion of those who donate to Depaul.
Chef Shay sees the impact of this kindness every day.
“Just a big, big, thank you to everybody around the country that just either pops in, says hello, leaves a few pound. it just means so, so much. So a big, big thanks from me and all the team here in Depaul. Thank you so much.”
To support the work of Chef Shay in Depaul’s kitchens, please donate today.