Breaking the stigma of rest home food
02 May 2018
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Tamara Thorn, The Waikato Times
Things are changing on the menus of rest homes. Unappealing, unpalatable and inedible dishes just won't cut it.
But Taupō chef Adriano Lopez is taking things to a new level. Since he arrived at Wharerangi Rest Home and Village in 2017, he's been experimenting with appearance, colour and texture as well as the taste of the food he serves up.
His previous job was three years at Wairakei Resort, where he worked with some of the best talent in the industry. He honed his skills catering for VIPs, including All Blacks, former prime minister John Key, Jonah Lomu and Rachel Hunter.
Lopez is now creating a small cafe-style menu for residents and their families.
This should be available in three to four months.
He said it was the influence of his partner that led him to become chef at Wharerangi.
"My partner said if we are both here, we can do something special for the residents."
Lopez wanted to bring the quality of the Wairakei food into the rest home.
"A lot of people, when they hear about rest home food, they think, oh, hospital food. And many rest homes are actually breaking with that now and hiring chefs who can actually create restaurant-quality meals," he said.
"That is the vision we are wanting to go to."
As well as changing the menu, Lopez will be putting his skills to the test at a cuisine competition focused around the elderly.
This is Lopez's first competition. He is one of 12 aged-care chefs from around the country entered in the Senior Lifestyle Cuisine competition in Auckland on August 12.
Chefs must prepare eight servings of a main dish, intended for the aged care market, in just 75 minutes.
A team of top industry judges will mark competitors and their dishes against a tough World Chefs judging standard, which includes criteria ranging from food preparation, taste and presentation through to professional practice.
Lopez will be under a fair bit of pressure, and not just from the competition.
Oceania Healthcare chefs have won this award for the past three years, so expectations are high.
Find out more about Wharerangi Rest Home