Royal Chef Visits Strathearn

Filed in Recent News by May 1, 2017

THE Queen prefers wholemeal toast for breakfast, Charles was organic in the days before it was cool to be organic and a favourite dish for Prince William and Prince Harry was cottage pie, said chef to the royal family Peter Morgan-Jones.

But nowadays he is more interested in what is on the menu for residents at Strathearn and his passion lies in creating innovative approaches to food to tempt patients with dementia.

Peter Morgan-Jones recently visited the Strathearn facilities in Scone as part of his position as executive chef and food ambassador for HammondCare and said he was inspired to create food for aged care after discussions with Maggie Beer.

“It began with a discussion between Maggie Beer and the CEO Stephen Judd and they were talking about how eggs in New South Wales need to be cooked for over 14 minutes and Maggie said they needed to find someone with a passion for food, who wasn’t institutionalised and she spoke with me,” said Mr Morgan-Jones.

“At first I didn’t know who the job was with and honestly when I found out it was in aged care I thought ‘oh God I don’t think I can do this’,” he said.

“But I found myself trying to feed Mary who was a resident and she just wasn’t eating and I tried different things to see what might spark her appetite and when she finally started eating everything for me changed, to be sitting there feeding her and to see her enjoy the food was brilliant,” he said.

Peter explained making menus for aged care is not just about the art of cooking but also about the science.

“We now know that we need to have strong contrasting colours for many residents to see where the food is, so for example you would never put chicken and potato on a white plate and set it on a white table cloth, because they simply wouldn’t see the food and that is why they are not eating,” he said.

“So we put contrasting food on the plate, and we put a place mat or a coloured table cloth so that they can see the plate,” he said.

“We also find they tend to like to eat with their hands, because they can lose the ability to use cutlery, so we have created recipes that can be comfortably eaten with their hands, it’s all about making them food they enjoy eating.

“We’ve added moulding powder to pureed food, so instead of serving mush, we put it into a mould that resembles the solid form of the food and allows them to pick it up with their fingers, we do that with fruit puree and a range of things,” he said.

“Foams are also really great in aged care, because they enjoy the light texture, but we can also pack in lots of nutrients,” Peter Morgan-Jones said.

Peter Morgan-Jones, Strathearn cook Libby Newell and Danielle McIntosh with some freshly baked cake cones for the residents.

Peter Morgan-Jones, Strathearn cook Libby Newell and Danielle McIntosh with some freshly baked cake cones for the residents.

Danielle McIntosh, senior dementia consultant for HammondCare works closely with Peter in the kitchen and said finding what whet’s the appetite of residents is complex but satisfying.

“Speaking with the family is a good start to find out what they most liked eating at home, but often people will say their mum or dad only ate meat and three veg and that was it, but when we prompt them we also find they had other foods the really enjoyed, such as going to the local Chinese restaurant on special occasions, so while fried rice isn’t something they would eat everyday it is still something they really enjoy, so we serve those things too,” said Ms McIntosh.

“Our staff are also encouraged to spend time with the residents to observe their subtle reactions to food and see what they enjoy the most, sometimes it takes time, but it is satisfying to see patients finally eat and gain weight,” she said.

“That is something different about aged care, when we count calories it is to put more calories into the meals, because if they don’t eat much we want to make sure they are getting everything they need,” Danielle McIntosh said.

In their review of the local facilities they looked at simple changes that can improve the dining room and food in Stafford Street and enjoyed the open plan, accessible kitchens at the new facility.

“If someone wants a piece of toast in the middle of the night they can have that, or they can go in and make a cup of tea, we want the kitchen to be part of their home and break down the old institutionalised approach to food with eggs that bounce,” laughed Peter Morgan-Jones.

Resident Jean Blake enjoyig her cake cone.

Resident Jean Blake enjoying a cake cone.

Peter has written two books “Don’t Give Me Eggs that Bounce – 118 cracking recipes for people with Alzheimer’s” and “It’s All About the Food Not the Fork – 107 easy to eat meals in a mouthful” and is passionate about educating families and staff about cooking great food for the elderly and for people with dementia.

More information on Peter’s books: Cracking Recipes.