Food is the Way to their Hearts
20 June 2018
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Chef Dean and his very popular cream buns
Deborah Watts, Diversional Therapist, Napier Courier.
When Chef Dean Bernstone came to Atawhai four months ago, he quickly earned the respect of our staff and the love of our residents. Dean has been around the world but has come home to Napier to settle permanently. He has a deep appreciation for the elderly who were the builders and creators of our communities, and expresses that appreciation through his food.
Dean started cooking at the tender age of 17 as a chef in the New Zealand Army. After completing his apprenticeship in London and retiring from the Army, Dean moved to Australia where he worked in many hotels and fine dining restaurants. Later he taught all levels of cookery for 9 years before starting up and running a series of seafood companies.
While Dean is very organised, meticulous and busy, he always has time to talk with and listen to our residents. He wants to make a difference in their lives and is a firm believer that “food is the way to their hearts” as he says.
Preparing nutritious, tasty and attractive meals for our residents is not an easy task. There are many factors Dean has to take into consideration – each resident’s dietary requirements, their likes and dislikes, the consistency of the food if they have any issues swallowing, and those are just a few! Somehow he does all this wonderfully well.
The proof is in the pudding (excuse the pun) when residents tell him his oxtail soup and sago pudding bring back sweet memories of their mothers’ cooking. And just like mum used to do, Dean prepares everything from scratch. He even makes his own chutney as, according to him, the “bought stuff just won’t do”.
As if that’s not enough, Dean also does those little extras to delight and surprise our residents - like making a specially prepared mocktail each day and giving them names like ‘Hokitika Kick’ and ‘Ginger Spritz’.
Every second month, our rest home and village residents and their families can also enjoy an in-house restaurant night. Last week’s Italian dinner was fully booked and Atawhai was filled with the aromas of Dean’s creamy porcini spaghetti and his champagne and roasted bacon risotto, after which there was barely enough room to sample the tiramisu and ricotta fruit tarte for dessert.
Who said rest home food is bland and boring? Certainly not our residents!
Find out more about Atawhai Rest Home