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James the Cooking King

When James arrived at Lady Dane Farmhouse in March he was shy, quiet and not quite ready to join the rest of the house in their social activities. But now just three months on, he’s cooking up a storm in the kitchen and is really becoming part of the day-to-day activity in the home. We found out what’s changed and how his love for cooking is simmering to the top.

James started showing an interest in the work of the kitchen at the Faversham home in the last month. Firstly, with the prep that needed doing – peeling, chopping and washing and also with what was going in the oven and when it was ready to come out.

The care home’s Kitchen Assistant, Stacey Fisher loved James’ help and with this small start it allowed James, 39, to build trust and a connection with Stacey. And that’s where his love of cooking started.

Stacey has been helping James every step of the way. She said: “I have loved showing James around the kitchen. He’s been a real help with all the bits and pieces that needed doing.”

From this small start, James, who has a progressive condition which means he suffers extreme fatigue, decided he wanted to do more. So, he was invited to do his own dinner for the other residents and staff.

After some meticulous planning, prep and some guidance from Stacey, the poster went up in the dining room for James King’s dinner night – Thursday 8 June. On the menu was the choice of a ham and cheese pizza or chicken korma and within days he had 21 people joining him for this wonderful feast.

Stacey added: “I am so proud of James. It’s been a huge achievement for him and it’s nice we have that connection so early as James has not been here long and to bring him out of his room is a huge achievement.”

The Masterchef himself did everything for the dinner, offering a table service on the night and even making some cupcakes for pudding. James enjoyed the whole evening. He said: “Well it was strange having so many people, but I did really enjoy it. I was proud and I’m already looking forward to helping at the next party.”

Lady Dane’s Registered Manger, Claire Dante said: “James did fantastic. This little idea has built James’ confidence up so much. It gives him a belonging to the home and has really brought him out of his shell. We’re all so proud of what he’s achieved and how he’s gone about it. And oh my goodness, the food was so tasty and good.”

At the end of the night James was presented with a personalised Masterchef apron, ready for when he gets back behind the pots and pans.

And it won’t be long before he’s back. He’s already been invited by Claire to help with the catering at the home’s official opening of its sensory room on 22 July.

We’d also like to keep James’ interest in cooking going. If you’re a local restaurant and would like to give James some work experience to help with his development, confidence, independence and self-esteem please get in touch. Email