At Essential Cuisine, we are all about celebrating chefs. We’ve always thought that there’s something special about chefs - their passion, their creativity, their resilience and natural ability to adapt to every circumstance imaginable. During the course of the pandemic, we have shared some incredible stories from chefs across the industry and today, we’d like to give Steve Illidge a special mention.
After Steve closed the doors to his café early last year, he immediately thought about how he could help the NHS during the crisis. Within 24 hours, and with the help of generous donations, Steve had teamed up with Christine at LifeChurch, Warrington to form the “Souper-hero programme”. Since, Steve and Christine have been using his kitchen facilities to produce nutritious soups, all made from scratch that can be heated in minutes to sustain NHS teams on the front line, ensuring they look after themselves, both physically and mentally.
To date, Steve and his team have donated over 7 tonnes of food to Warrington and Halton hospitals, including freshly made soups, each containing one pound of nutritious vegetables. What’s more, Steve has been keen to keep his offerings innovative, by providing over 200 different flavour combinations including tomato and mascarpone and the classic chicken broth.
Steve added, “Hearing how much the frontline workers enjoy our soups makes it all worthwhile. With the unsociable working hours that come with working in a hospital, plus the extended shifts and stress as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, these medical professionals were not finding the time to cook. It made me think, if my family fell ill with COVID, I wouldn’t want them to be treated by people who are fuelled by fast food. We hope our lunchtime offerings give them one less thing to worry about during their working day.”
General Manager, Heather Wilde, has been liaising with Steve over recent months, ensuring he has all of the stock bases he needs to produce his great tasting soups. Heather said, “We are so proud to support such a wonderful, local cause. We hope that our product donations will make Steve’s life a little easier in the kitchen, eliminating sensitive areas of food safety and declarable allergens whilst retaining all the attributes a kitchen-made stock should. People like Steve are making such a valuable difference and we are delighted to be able to help."
If you would like to show your support, Steve is encouraging all donations to be made to Warrington & Halton Hospitals charity - https://whhcharity.org.uk/coronavirus/