Aged care cooks demonstrate their passion for great food

It was a feast for all five senses as the six cottages that make up Southwood nursing home at Hammondville joined together for a MasterChef-style, Italian-themed cook-off.

The contest idea was developed by Hammondville staff as a way of encouraging and further developing their commitment to providing wonderful meals with and for their residents. It coincided with the recent nationwide launch of Don't give me eggs that bounce: 118 cracking recipes for people with Alzheimer's and is an example of the food culture from which the book grew.

Buon appetito!

All manner of red, white and green decorations adorned the walls, dining tables were laid with crisp cloths and silver cutlery while the sounds of traditional folk tunes played softly in the background.

Tantalising aromas wafted through the common areas and – most importantly – delicious meals were served up in every dining room. On the menu was a tempting array of freshly cooked Italian meals and desserts: antipasto platters, spaghetti, penne boscaiola, wild mushroom risotto, tiramisu and panacotta.

“We have some really good cooks here who take a lot of pride in the meals that they make,” said event organiser Rhonda Martens – a Senior Specialised Dementia Carer at the home.

“The idea was to showcase that and to introduce new recipes, ideas and ingredients. We chose to theme it around Italian cuisine because it is universally popular and is appreciated in many different cultures.”

Tailored to residents' needs

The cook-off saw the cottages compete in three different categories – finger foods, texture-modified foods and home cooked meals – according to the particular needs of the residents who are living with dementia.

While the residents happily dined on the fine food, a team of judges scored teams on their overall ambiance, table setting, taste, food presentation and nutritional content.

Among the judges was Head Chef for the Southern Region, Peter Welfare, who said the food was “sensational”.

“This has been a real highlight for the staff because it’s a chance for them to go beyond their normal high quality service and do something extra special for the residents.”

“Days like today promote good food in a fun way and demonstrate that it is just as important as as other aspects of their role such as personal care or ensuring that the cottage is clean. For the residents, food is important and it’s good to highlight that."

Everyone's a winner

Every cottage was declared a winner in its own right and was presented with a copy of the Don’t give me eggs that bounce cookbook – signed by Executive Chef Peter Morgan-Jones and his co-authors Danielle McIntosh, Emily Colombage and Prudence Ellis – along with a food hamper to be shared by staff and residents.