Cultural influences have always played a significant role in Australian and New Zealand food trends. This is becoming especially true in Aged Care as the expectations of residents increase, and food standards in Aged Care rise.
We spoke to three Aged Care Chefs about the flavours and cultural influences they are seeing in their facilities. We asked them what is influencing the types of meals on their menus, and what their residents are really enjoying.
Kylie Stephens is the Chef Manager at Chelsea House and Sindhy Ladegourdie is the Chef Manager at Riverlea, both part of the BlueCross group in Victoria, Australia. Peter Paues is the Head Chef of the Life Care group in South Australia.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest influence on the food flavours over the last 10 years?
Asian & Indian flavours, I feel, are the biggest influence. You never used to be able to find any Asian or Indian food in supermarkets, now there are isles designated to these cultures.
The biggest influence would have to be Italian culture as we have a few Italians residents at my site.
Q: Do your residents like to try new dishes and flavours?
Our residents like to try new flavours and cuisines, they like to have the variety and choice, to pick what they like to eat.
Surprisingly yes, they do love to try new flavours, and I think we will see more and more residents who will want new flavors in their meals.
They do like to try new flavours, but I get their feedback to know if they enjoyed it or not. For example the chilli con carne and tortillas was not a great success but the Korean BBQ chicken and rice was a real hit.
Q: What has been the most surprisingly successful new dish you’ve introduced on your menu?
Asian dumplings, I was very surprised the residents enjoyed these as I was expecting the feedback being negative however this was not at all the case.
I didn’t expect the BBQ Korean chicken to be popular, but it is unexpectedly a big hit at Riverlea.
It is hard to round it down to one meal as I am putting more and more new dishes on the menu but the different styles of curries are going very well and my steak Diane is also popular.
Q: What is the most exotic dish on your menu?
I think the most “exotic” dish on the menu for our residents would be the Asian dumplings (vegetarian, chicken and prawn and pork with carrot) served with fried rice, 90% of the resident will order this dish.
I think the “fisherman basket” is the most exotic dish on our menu.
It is normally served in a proper individual basket with coloured greaseproof paper with a variety of seafood items, chips and salad.
For mains, the most "exotic" would be Greek style baked thigh as I put a lot of fresh herbs and flavors for it to marinate overnight.
For desserts I have put "red wine poached pears" and it went across very well.
Q: We also asked Kylie, Sindhy and Peter what their favourite food was when they eat out:
I like Mauritian food which consists of a mixture of Creole, Indian and Chinese cuisine. My favourite dish, if we are eating out, will be a hot and spicy Lamb Curry with saffron rice or roti bread.
I like to try different cuisines: Asian, Italian, Turkish but if I had to pick one, it would have to be Indian with the robust flavours and rustic undertones; it transports you to the little villages in India.
I love flavour, I like eating Indian or Vietnamese food.
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