The key ingredients

Vigneesh Selvaraja is still involved in working with dough – but in the kitchen! And he couldn’t be happier!

Uniting AgeWell Hawthorn Community Chef Supervisor Vigneesh has a Masters Degree in International Finance through Deakin University, but is following his passion and cooking his way into a bright future- and into the residents’ hearts.

And he’s also embracing his new recipe for happiness, being a chef and working with older people – a far cry from the life he imagined working in the cut-throat world of high finances.

Vigneesh left Malaysia at the age of 18 to study a BCom degree followed by a Masters Degree at Deakin University. He lived with his aunt and at the age of 19 started working part time as a cook’s assistant at Baptcare Hedley Sutton Community in Camberwell. The role entailed setting up tables, making sandwiches and washing dishes, and in the seven years he was there, Vigneesh found himself drawn to the kitchen and to older people.

“As a kid aged nine and ten, I loved helping my granny in the kitchen, especially cooking traditional foods,” he explains. “I’ve always had a flair for cooking, but it’s only now that I realise exactly how much I love it!”

An opportunity opened up to be an acting chef supervisor at Uniting AgeWell Box Hill Community, and it was there that his talents in the kitchen were showcased.

In 2018 he moved over to Uniting AgeWell Tanderra Community as a chef. Then in 2019 he moved to Uniting AgeWell Preston Community as a second chef, before joining Hawthorn Community in his current role at the beginning of the year.

Over the last couple of years he completed a Cert 3 in Catering Operations in Longevity for the Aged Care Sector, a new course specifically tailored to Aged Care and run through the William Angliss.

But pi and the delicious pies he makes are not as far removed as one might imagine. The business side of running a kitchen entails not only the cooking, but ordering, overseeing operations, drawing up budgets and more.

“I find the role fascinating,” the 34-year-old says. “It’s very rewarding working with older people, they have so much wisdom and so much to offer, and it is always a challenge to ensure that the science behind their nutritious diets and delicious flavours are in sync. Aged care is a fascinating career.”

He has nothing but praise for Uniting AgeWell who he says are quick to recognise talent and grow staff.

In the meantime, he is enjoying life with his accountant wife who he met at Deakin University and their soon to be adopted nine-year-old son.

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