Garden Terrace culinary creation shows the high quality residents expect
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 — Deron Hamel
Garden Terrace nutritional care manager Dawn Cameron points to a salmon dish recently served to residents for dinner as an example of the fine cuisine prepared in the kitchen at the Ottawa-area long-term care home.
Cook Isioma Okolie plated the salmon with a Dijon mustard and orange glaze and an orange slice for garnish. The result was a dish that could have been served in a high-end restaurant.
“He layers all his food, so it’s not side-by-side; it’s got height,” Cameron explains, adding residents liked the presentation and enjoyed the meal. “It was really colourful.”
It’s this type of high-quality, from-scratch cooking that’s the modern face of long-term-care home cooking, she adds.
Cameron underscores the importance of food to people living in a long-term care home. For many residents, food is the one thing in their lives they have full control over — and they expect their dining experiences to be high quality.
“If the food isn’t appetizing, they’re not going to eat, which leads to other health problems,” Cameron explains. “So, it’s important to give the residents the food they want to eat while following the standards we need to follow and making the food appetizing for them.”
While long-term care chefs and cooks need to follow ministry standards when preparing meals, there are still opportunities for creativity, says Cameron, who began her career in hotel and restaurant management. She chose a career in long-term care because she enjoys working with seniors.
On a recent episode of Top Chef Canada, judges disparagingly remarked to two contestants who were being eliminated from the cooking reality show that their culinary creations resembled “nursing-home food.”
Chris Weber, OMNI Health Care’s operations manager of nutrition and food services, wants to show the world just what “nursing-home food” really is and how chefs and cooks working in the long-term care sector can produce top-quality dishes as good as anyone.
Using the hashtag #NursingHomeFood on social-media networks Twitter and Facebook, Weber and The OMNIway are collaborating in the coming weeks to showcase some of the top-notch food being prepared at OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes.
Cameron says she would like food experts to look at the kinds of foods being served outside the restaurant industry so they can see that there high standards throughout the food-service industry.
“I think they need to broaden their horizons to see what is going on in our field,” she says.
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