Fine Food

Fine Food Experience at Woodcroft Aged Care

There’s a freshness wafting through the kitchen and dining room at Kalyra Woodcroft Aged Care – and it’s not just in the form of new chef Andrew Smith and his passion for using fresh ingredients wherever possible but it’s evident in his commitment to developing a new menu that caters to the needs and tastes of all residents.

The young chef who joined the Kalyra team earlier this year says his passion for making every mouthful as nutritious and tasty as possible was ignited in March when he attended a Maggie Beer Foundation Master Class for some 30 chefs in the aged care sector.

Engrossed in the course and inspired by Maggie, he ended up sharing first place in its grand finale, a Master Chef-like Mystery Box Challenge during which teams of two raced against the clock while preparing a dish with chicken as the hero ingredient, complemented by the other ingredients in the box.

“With the Maggie Beer Foundation all about delivering healthy and nutritious meals and improving the food experiences of older Australians, particularly those in aged care, I found the course enormously uplifting, thought-provoking and challenging,” Andrew explains.

“I found myself questioning why we couldn’t be more creative in the kitchen; why we couldn’t be more adventurous and make meals from scratch, using fresh ingredients rather than their frozen alternatives.”

In the months since, Andrew has set about getting Kalyra Woodcroft Aged Care’s 83 residents involved in the process, having collectively started a herb garden and a modest vegetable patch that’s teeming with beautiful and leafy spinach. 

It’s a small start but the dreams are big, with both Andrew and the residents confident they’ll soon experience the joy that comes with planting and lovingly tendering your own vegetables, harvesting and preparing them and serving them fresh.

Resident Herb Garden

The new menu, too, is taking shape as Andrew works closely with residents, in the form of the Kalyra Woodcroft Consultative Committee which he meets with monthly to obtain feedback on the meals and share ideas for future dishes.

“The new menu is all about offering a greater variety of nutritious meals and will feature perennial favourites like lasagne and shepherd’s pie, along with a selection of hearty stews and curries for the colder winter months,” he says while divulging that a series of special culinary evenings, each showcasing a specific genre of meal, is about to be launched.

The first is a curry night with a butter chicken for those of a sensitive palate and a tangy mango beef vindaloo for the more adventurous.

Andrew, whose food journey has seen him complete his apprenticeship with the Royal Australian Navy, work in the kitchens of a number of Adelaide cafés and restaurants, and complete stints in the mining, private hospital and aged care sectors, adds that the real challenge – and reward – in cooking comes when you’re living with those you feed.

“In that sense, the Navy gave me the perfect grounding as I would often spend up to six weeks at sea, living with those on the patrol boats, socialising with them…and being responsible for feeding them,” Andrew explains.

“When in a community such as Kalyra, you’re pretty much living with the people you are cooking for. There is no escape. They are your fiercest critics and will let you know when they’ve had a great meal, equally when they have felt it wasn’t up to scratch.

“But I love it, I love the close relationship I have with the residents at Kalyra Woodcroft, I love the way they get involved in the food experience and I love their honesty when it comes to providing feedback on the meals I serve, which, thankfully, has been overwhelmingly positive.”

So what did the local boy who grew up in Somerton Park, attended Sacred Heart College and now lives in Woodcroft with his pregnant wife and 30-month-old prepare that won him the accolades at Maggie Beer’s Master Class, you ask?

“It was a butter chicken dish with chickpeas and a side serve of a banana and yoghurt smoothie to cool the palate – and it’s likely to get another run at our upcoming curry night,” he reveals.

Experience fine food at Kalyra Woodcroft Aged Care