Former Savoy chef David Croft's life changed forever when a diving accident left him paralysed from the shoulders down. Janie Stamford finds out about Food for Thought - his part autobiography, part cookbook
What prompted you to write Food for Thought?
People suggested it but I was reluctant to write a proper autobiography. So the book became a combination of life, karate, cooking and disability.
Has the industry's ability to meet the needs of disabled guests improved in recent years?
All service providers are now obliged to provide reasonable access under the Equality Act, but the reality is that for many it's just another box to tick. The business case has been proven many times - making the right provisions for disabled guests and diners can increase revenues for proprietors - so why businesses often ignore this market is baffling.
Why do you think work still needs to be done?
I think the main problem is a lack of empathy. I appreciate that old establishments have trouble adapting their provision such as rooms and lifts for disabled people. However, I think that proprietors and architects designing new buildings or doing refurbishments could learn a lot by putting themselves in the position of someone with a disability.
What further developments would you like to see?
Where possible, I'd like to see more facilities such as wheel-in showers and overhead hoists. Consultation with the likes of Tourism for All can help create inclusive environments.
An annual "accessibility" cookery competition, in which food for those with limited dexterity is created and showcased in a glamorous way, would be a highlight in the calendar.
You've demonstrated an impressive amount of resilience and drive. What motivates you?
I've always been very motivated and driven - I left home at 16 to pursue my dream of becoming a chef. And my good sense of humour has been my saving grace at times.