Kidney Kitchen Masterclass Demonstration with Chef Paul Ripley

Kidney Kitchen Masterclass Demonstration with Chef Paul Ripley

As promised, here's my detailed account of the 'Kidney Kitchen Masterclass with Chef Paul Ripley' at the Young Adult Kidney Weekend in September 2023. Out of all the activities that were on offer at the YAKG residential weekend, this new offering was the one I was most looking forward to! As much as I enjoy all the physical activities at Mount Cook Adventure Centre (Rock Climbing, Via Ferrata, High Ropes, Archery etc.), my first joy always returns to food!

What is the Kidney Kitchen | Kidney Care UK?

Kidney Care UK's Kidney Kitchen is the gateway to good eating on the Renal Diet

In all honesty, I was a little skeptical when I first came across the Kidney Kitchen YouTube videos and Recipes on the Kidney Care UK website. At the first YAKG weekend I attended in 2022, meals were catered using the Kidney Kitchen recipes and my blood pressure rocketed over that weekend. You can actually see in the photos, my fluid retention getting worse as the weekend passes.

However, what I found out at that weekend was that not all individuals with kidney disease have the same renal dietary requirements! This was actually a big shock for me at the time. This explained why the catering last year was not suited for my particular diet. Turns out I am super sensitive to salt compared to the common kidney patient!

When you are progressing along the stages of CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) and finally crash land on dialysis you are bombarded with pamphlets and stern advice to follow the renal diet. However, the renal diet is a broad term and is constantly changing to your own blood test results! It is only by listening to your renal dietician do you receive your tailored renal diet. For me that is V. Low Salt, Low Phosphate and Moderate to Low Potassium.

The Kidney Kitchen Masterclass restored my confidence in Renal Friendly Meals!

Who is Chef Paul Ripley?

In summary, Chef Paul Ripley has been an ally to the kidney community long before he became a kidney patient himself! What started out as a neighbourly gesture to create renal friendly meals, he has now become one of the core team members at the Kidney Kitchen in recipe development. He, himself, is a kidney cancer survivor and lives by his own tailored renal diet!

🤩 I was a little star-struck when I first read up on his career, not that I know too much about the restaurant world, but I do recognise accolades such as 'Michelin Starred Chef' and working as head chef at Rick Stein's "The Seafood Restaurant". Okay, I've never heard of the seafood restaurant, but I've seen a Rick Stein cookbook on bookshelves at home!

I came to the conclusion that this man is basically a celebrity chef and he cares about the renal diet! It felt really good knowing that someone in the food & restaurant industry (a land where salt is added to every element of a dish) actually knows about the renal diet and recognises the struggle with which kidney patients go through!

The Masterclass

The initial sign up sheet for the masterclass was for only 15 individuals! However, on the day, the turn out to watch the Chef Paul Ripley's demonstration far exceeded this. Both kidney patients, volunteers and renal dieticians alike all crowded around the improvised kitchen set up in the mess hall.

It reminded me a little of the kitchenette style demonstrations we had in primary school with the playschool blue tables and colourful benches. However, with Paul in a signature white chef jacket and a navy and white striped apron, there was an air of professionalism! There was a questionable portable stove atop the table and neat line of well-positioned bowls of ingredients. All eyes and mobile cameras were on the chef!

Seared Salmon and 'Thai inspired' Coriander Salad Demonstration

A surprising and sophisticated choice! 

I was really surprised by the choice of demonstration. Personally, my family does not consume a lot of salmon so I do not know how irregular this is for a common British household but I thought the choice of recipe felt like a testament to the Kidney Kitchen elevating what a renal friendly meal could look like.

Alternatively, it could be that Chef Ripley has a background in seafood cuisine or also the speed and ease of this recipe lends to a colorful but quick demonstration. Well it would have been quicker if the portable stove was a little hotter!

The demonstration was engaging and there was good communication between the Chef and the audience. I've watched a lot of cooking videos on YouTube and Saturday Morning Television in my lifetime and the best part of this demonstration was that the focus was on the food AND the dietary requirements of the kidney patient. Intermittently, Chef Paul would detail the highs and lows of phosphates, potassium and salt in each ingredient he handled.

Most interestingly, were his comments about how his recipe development for the kidney kitchen would go through multiple iterations with the renal dieticians before being approved. There was an equal balance of grief and empathy for this process, which I recognised and resonated with in my own battles in the kitchen department.

Even better, after thoughtful questions were made and answered, at the end of the demonstration four tasty portions of Salmon and Coriander Salad were made to be sampled. That's not something you experience when watching a YouTube video on dialysis at night!

Eton Mess

Best Eton Mess I've Ever Had! 

She's a classic British summer dessert! In my Chinese family, this is not something we have often but is greatly enjoyed when it is on offer! Even my parents, who are not dessert people, love tucking into the crispy meringues and sharp tangy fruits of an Eton Mess topped with dollops of pillowy whipped cream.

I was a little surprised by this choice mainly because of the potential complications of phosphates in the cream and potassium in the fruits. However, this was all addressed and because of the portion size and inevitably this being classified as a treat it is all approved my the dietician!

That cheffiness addition of crushed Ginger Nut Biscuits and Ginger Cordial! We were all amazed by impactful these additions were to the dessert. I would have never, especially with a dessert with cream but I think it was the full fat richness of the cream that balanced the 'spicy-ness' of the Ginger and was not at all overpowering! ahh... this is the power of being a chef!

One thing you can't get away from is the beautiful presentation of the plates of food. We were all timid at first when sampling the Salmon dish but by the time the green light had been given to sample the Eton Mess, we were like seagulls on a beach. My lactose intolerant friend, raced to her room to fetch her medication before diving for the remains of an Eton Mess bowl!

The End of the Demonstration

Overall the Kidney Kitchen Masterclass demonstration was a really big success! After the plates and bowls had been cleared, people began to scatter and leave the mess hall to their next scheduled activities. There was a little confusion as to what was happening next, as this was the first year of the Kidney Kitchen Masterclass, no one knew what to expect. The Masterclass was a double session and I had assumed that this was the end of the activity! But no!

Chef Paul came up behind me and my group of friends and said:

Now that you've seen me do it, it's your turn to have a go in the kitchen!

Right, so we ALL thought he meant at home and were beginning to wind down and wander away... Moments later, the volunteers were rounding up the remaining young adults and were bringing out fillets of Salmon, bags of coriander, and cucumbers. So.... oh we are doing some cooking. 😅.

I think I shall have to do a continuence in my next article regarding how that went! It turns out, the young adults who had signed up for the Kidney Kitchen Masterclass would have the chance to recreate the Salmon recipe and be involved in making the Sunday Pudding! I think there was expectation surrouding the Sunday Pudding but none of us had any idea that we would be making pan seared salmon! I think I was mainly shocked because (1) salmon is fairly expensive and (2) health & safety normally gets in the way of knife work. However, we are all over 18! duh. I'm stuck in the dark ages of primary school cooking demonstrations 😨.

Overall , I feel so incredibly grateful that Chef decided to come to the Young Adult Kidney Group Weekend and for the enthusiastic renal dietician who suggested the idea and made it all happen along with the rest of the YAKG volunteers at Kidney Care UK. I genuinely think it made a really big impression on the young adults who attended. The renal diet and cooking in general can be a complicated aspect of kidney disease to manage, especially when we young adults are leading normal busy lives like everyone else: family, education, work...dialysis.

I feel really grateful that one of the renal dietician volunteers had organised and invited Paul to come along to do this with us all. I was so happy to see his dedication to continue with the Kidney Kitchen, when at the start of the session the Chef passed around his black notebook for suggestions on recipes we would like him to develop. What was probably a throwaway request began a lively discussion from the young adults on the struggles of finding renal friendly meals for office lunches or meals on a budget that taste good and fakeaway meals! I'm sure the Chef came away with a long list of ideas for future recipe development. It was probably also nice to meet the end user of all his hard work.

I hope this review of the Kidney Kitchen Masterclass may inspire you to have a look at the Kidney Care UK Kidney Kitchen website which houses a number of great resources on cooking and the renal diet. From articles about budgeting, meal planning and fluid restrictions to a catalogue of renal dietician approved recipes both as YouTube video demonstrations, PDF recipe cards and Website pages. The Kidney Kitchen seems to be constantly updating year on year with the new features and recipes. For example their Food Facts grids which are so helpful in identifying recipes which will fit into your renal diet appears on every recipe released.

Credit to Kidney Care UK Website: Food Facts. 

Some helpful links to the Kidney Kitchen Wesbite:

🧾Catalogue of Kidney Kitchen Recipes here
🔪Kidney Kitchen Skills Videos here
🧂 Managing Fluid and Salt Levels here

Wishing you well on your kidney journey!

Lai x

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IGA Nephropathy confirmed at 21. Crashed into End Stage Renal Failure at 23. Now, I share with the world my 3 years lived experience on Home Peritoneal Dialysis and Post Transplant Living 10/10/2023