October 27, 2022 | Altura Blog
Cooking for the love of life
In 2018, after a long and respected career working in five-star hotels, resorts and high-end restaurants, Ved Prasad was appointed as Executive Chef at Gallipoli Home, a brand new care home that was soon to open in Sydney’s west. His appointment allowed him to fully immerse himself in the planning stages, the setup of the kitchen and serveries, through to opening the doors to Gallipoli Home’s first resident.
Catering to the needs of Muslim and culturally diverse elders, Ved recognised an obligation to focus on studying Turkish culture and history, and of course, traditional Turkish foods. Given that almost all his residents knew how to cook beautiful, homestyle meals from a vast number of regions, the challenge was to develop menus that delivered on taste and flavour, even though recipes might vary from household to household.
Ved’s strategy was simple common sense – “I planned my menus with the residents. I let them lead and I followed their recipes, likes and dislikes, received their feedback and did my best. They were my team of chefs and my assessors as well. Together we walked through the obstacles together.” It’s a principle that worked and something that could inspire all aged care cooks and chefs.
Built on a foundation of love and respect, Gallipoli Home’s vision is “To set a high standard for aged care, where elders of culturally diverse and Muslim backgrounds feel right at home”. Ved has incorporated this vision into everything that takes place in the kitchen and dining rooms.
VED’S KITCHEN PHILOSOPHIES – THE THINGS THAT MATTER
An aged care kitchen should be no different to any other kitchen – put the best available ingredients in, cook with confidence, love and passion – and serve the finest dishes imaginable to your diners.
As an Executive Chef, here are some key principles that Ved upholds:
- Maintain dignity and respect – Whatever we are doing, dignity and respect is imperative. Ask the residents what they would like before serving the meal to ensure they have a voice and a choice. Placing ourselves in their shoes and doing what we can to assist them with their daily living activities should always be our priority.
- Listen to their concerns and requirements -Every concern, no matter how small, is important. Responding to resident concerns as they arise is essential to person-centred care.
- Engage with the families – Staff can obtain a great deal of invaluable information from the family. Gather their ideas and gain a better perspective about their loved one’s preferences.
- Be compassionate – Compassion is essential, not only towards each resident, but towards each other. Staff need to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the residents they support.
- Engage with training – In addition to our mandatory training, such as food safety regulations and texture modification, kitchen staff can also learn from each other.
- Be mindful of religious and cultural practices -Faith-based practices can inform the dietary preferences of residents, for example, at Gallipoli Home all meals are halal and prepared with ingredients that are permissible.
- Develop culturally inclusive menus – Food can hold significant connections to our culture. Gallipoli Home attracts residents from many cultures, including Fijian, Pakistani, Turkish, Arabic, Palestinian and Afghan, and the menu reflects this diversity.
- Engage with your residents – Residents may enjoy sharing their experiences about their life, including food memories and favourite family recipes.
- Work together – Collaborate as a team to achieve the best outcomes for your residents. Seek support from management and evaluate your practices regularly, to ensure continuous improvement.
Ved appeared with Maggie Beer on the AGED CARE SKILLS FOR COOKS AND CHEFS module, “Embracing Food From Diverse Cultures”.
This is one of 11 modules that the Maggie Beer Foundation has designed, in partnership with Altura Learning and William Angliss Institute, to ensure all cooks and chefs, from all aged care providers across the country, can access essential training that improves the food experiences for older Australians.
Each Module is 30-minutes, video-based and accessible online- feature Maggie Beer and some of Australia’s leading Aged Care chefs and experts in food, nutrition, and the dining experience.