Recipe for success

Kim Edwards has a secret cooking ingredient. Love!

The Chef Supervisor at Newnham Community Aldersgate Village relishes bringing joy to residents’ days with the meals she prepares, putting her heart and soul into every dish she creates.

Her role entails overseeing the cooks in the kitchen, especially with the Maggie Beer Trainer Mentor Program now underway at Aldersgate Village along with Sorell Community Ningana in Tasmania and Strathdon and Kingsville Communities in Victoria. Another three sites – Manor Lakes, Preston and Box Hill – are part of the second wave that will start the training across August and September. And a further two sites, Hawthorn and Strath-Haven in Bendigo will be part of a third wave.

The Maggie Beer Foundation is delivering education and training funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Aged Care, to recommend improvements to the dining, food and nutritional outcomes of older Australians in aged care. On completion, the site as well as the chefs, will receive a Maggie Beer Foundation certificate valid for two years.

“Already the residents are saying they love the new stocks and gravies we are infusing with herbs,” explains Kim. “We are also making the meals protein-rich, so even sweet slices have protein added to them to build up residents’ strength.”

While the Maggie Beer program will help enhance the Uniting AgeWell food experience for those sites involved, Uniting AgeWell is already leading the way in ensuring food service is a priority.

All Uniting AgeWell residences have qualified chefs, supported by Hotel Services Coordinators and the Hotel Services Managers. Our team of dieticians ensure meals are tailored to the health needs of individuals with ongoing training and professional development programs for all staff, including dining enhancement training to support a welcoming environment and great customer service.

Another important part of the DineWell experience at Uniting AgeWell are the Food Forums. This offers an opportunity for residents to provide feedback and recommendations on menus and sample new menu items.

Kim enjoys whipping up two new surprise dishes to present to the residents for their feedback in the monthly Food Focus meeting. “They’re not shy in voicing their opinions,” she laughs. “If they like it I include it in the menu. If it’s a no, well I never serve it again!”

She also says there is a huge amount of variety in her role – she cooks dietician-designed meals as well as all the sweet and savoury items for high teas. “I always say you eat with your eyes,” Kim adds. “The food needs to look appealing.”

Uniting AgeWell is fortunate to have chefs with broad experience gained in restaurants and hotels across the country and internationally. Ray Hiskins, Hotel Services Coordinator at Uniting AgeWell Strathdon Community says, for many, working as a chef in aged care is a lifestyle choice.

“Some of our chefs have worked in some high pressure environments, putting in all sorts of hours. Being a chef in aged care, while complex and extremely busy, also means reasonable hours, is family friendly and very rewarding.”