South Australia’s Resthaven Mount Gambier cook, Kimberly Harris, vows she wouldn’t serve anything she wouldn’t eat herself.
So, when given the opportunity to improve the quality of meals for residents at the facility, she took on the culinary challenge.
Ms Harris’ effort to improve the dining experience of residents was commended at Aged & Community Services SA & NT State Awards for Excellence recently when she was awarded the Employee Award.
The 27-year-old former motel chef (featured) tells DPS News she simply wanted food to “look a lot nicer” for residents.
Celebrating a year as cook at Resthaven Mount Gambier last week, Ms Harris is described as “caring and creative” and who cleverly shapes and moulds food puree to look like foods such as carrots and peas. This apparently helps those residents with swallowing problems to feel as though they’re not ‘left out’ while other residents are able to eat hearty, solid meals.
Ms Harris was nominated by the facility’s manager, Pam Alde, who says Ms Harris’ culinary skill and talent are “second to none”.
“It is her genuine respect for the individual needs and preferences of each and every resident at Resthaven Mount Gambier that sets her apart,” Ms Alde explains.
“It is people like Ms Harris, who through passion, commitment and selfless concern for the wellbeing of others, make the aged care industry so vibrant and rewarding,” she adds.
Ms Harris says improving the quality of food presentation for the elderly is “top priority”.
She admits she has tried to incorporate ‘modern’ dishes to the menu, but residents tend to love “very old-style foods” such as roast and casserole.
“From being a chef in a motel, I’ve learnt it’s all about presentation and taste, particularly with pureed food.
“I really love making residents happy. This is their home. I wouldn’t go back to working in a motel; I love working in aged care.”