Uniting AgeWell has turned the heat up on its chefs, testing their skills with a unique MasterChef-style cook-off as part of a broad range of tactics designed to boost the overall dining experience for residents in aged care.
Masterclass 2018 saw 24 chefs from across Victoria and Tasmania working in four teams of six to create the ultimate aged care dining experience at the PFD Food Services Tasmanian Trade Show in Hobart in October.
The teams had just 90 minutes to create a spectacular dining experience, including a main course and dessert dish that adhered to the aged care dietary guidelines and a table setting for the judges that included three Uniting AgeWell residents.
When the clock stopped, the judges were presented with three salmon dishes and a lamb shepherd’s pie, along with lemon tarts, orange mousse and chocolate and raspberry creations.
Doris Thackery, from Uniting AgeWell’s Mornington Community, Lillian Martin, said judging Masterclass 2018 was a “wonderful experience” and each dish was delicately presented.
“The meals were delicious and they weren’t just thrown on a plate, they were presented really well,” she said.
Blue team was declared Masterclass 2018 winner, presenting a pan fried salmon dish with roasted vegetables, beetroot and roasted capsicum sauce and lemon basil pesto, topped with crunchy sweet potato chips, followed by a raspberry and orange flan.
Participating chef Sharon Woolley said the competition was an opportunity to learn from her peers, improve her communication skills, which is vital in busy kitchens, and form connections with people from across the organisation.
Uniting AgeWell CEO Andrew Kinnersly said Masterclass, introduced in a different format in 2017, was among a range of initiatives the organisation had introduced to enhance both the quality of food at its aged care residences, and the overall dining experience.
Masterclass 2017 earned Uniting AgeWell an ACSA Victoria Aged Care Award for Innovation in Service or Design, which recognises a program, project or initiative that shows originality to improve the lives of older Australians.
“Unfortunately the quality of food is one of the biggest areas of complaint across the entire aged care sector and we want to change that,” he said.
“Food is so important to everyone. Taste and smell can evoke memories, stimulate happiness and provide comfort.
“Good nutrition also leads to better health outcomes for residents, including reduced risk of falls and fewer hospital admissions.
“This event is a great way to support our chefs to create tasty and nicely presented dishes that adhere to the aged care dietary guidelines, and take what they learned back to their kitchens for the benefit of residents.
“It also allows the broader community to see the importance Uniting AgeWell places on food in our services.”
The organisation has held training days with top international and national chefs about how to cook nutritious and tasty meals – including George Calombaris and Mark Baylis – and with food suppliers and manufacturers to keep chefs up-to-date with the best food available.
On day two of Masterclass 2018, the chefs completed a food safety supervisor course with Ben Carroll from Goulburn Valley Food Safety.
Uniting AgeWell would like to acknowledge the sponsors who made Masterclass 2018 possible. PFD Food Services supplied the venue, produce and cooking stations and Tasmanian Hotel and Catering Supplies provided the crockery and chefs’ jackets, while Nestle, Rubbermaid, Fresh Cut, Map Coffee and Kraft Heinz supplied produce.