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Introducing Cameron Lochhead and the dining experience at Embracia Moonee Valley

December 5, 2018
Embracia Moonee Valley welcomed Cameron Lochhead as their Kitchen Manager only a few months ago, and already he is having a big impact on the dining experience within the home. He leads a team of talented chefs and kitchen hands who together, create a healthy and well balanced menu that is seasonally appropriate and continually changing. Cam has been an integral part of making meal time more of an 'experience' for our residents. Food is such an important part of our residents day, so it needs to not only taste delicious, but be presented in a visually appealing way.

Meal time is often the highlight of a resident’s day. At Embracia, our intimate households’ feature lovely dining spaces that give off a warm vibe, a French Provincial ‘home like’ interior in which the meal can be enjoyed.

Our kitchen team cater delicious, healthy and vibrant meals for all our residents and their guests. We happily provide choice for our residents when it comes to the menu and cater for a wide range of tastes, preferences and cultural/religious needs. After all, incorporating a well planned menu that provides a balanced diet and a focus on elderly nutrition is key to ensuring our residents are taken care of.

Residents living with dementia have a far lower intake of food and fluids due to their decreased recognition of hunger and thirst. Their sense of taste and smell is reduced, and difficulties with swallowing may also arise. Our kitchen staff serve custom modified dishes that fully enhance the aesthetic appeal of all our served meals, regardless of the resident’s cognitive abilities. The dining experience needs to encapsulate taste, aroma, colour and texture- so presentation of food is of paramount importance. After all “we eat with our eyes’.

We have introduced the use of hot steaming face washes soaked in an orange citrus essential oil for residents to freshen up before their meal. Residents have loved this new routine, it has had a great impact on stimulating their appetite and providing a positive association in preparation for meal times.

In these memory support households our expert staff use verbal communication and non verbal gestures that focus fully on the individual. Everyone has a different way of savoring their meal, with some residents preferring to chat between mouthfuls, some love a truly peaceful and silent dining experience while others like to observe their friends eating their meals whilst being assisted with their own. Meal times are equally important for social interaction within the household.

At Moonee Valley we have recently introduced a ‘Food Focus Group’ which is held every second Friday in the Men’s lounge. This group is facilitated by our wonderful volunteer Amilia, and is a wonderful way for residents to give constructive/positive feedback on the food, menu ideas and suggestions. The focus group also decide what cooking group sessions will be held for the month. Most recently in November, the cooking group made Krispeli Italian donuts, Anzac biscuits and Firatelli Italian Waffles. This is a great way for residents to give their input into the lifestyle program based on what interests them, and leads to greater attendance and involvement in activities around the home.

A Chat with Cameron

Cameron started his career 18 years ago in a Spanish restaurant in Fitzroy. He learnt a lot of his core values in his time at this restaurant, in particular the skill of time management. From here he expanded his horizons and worked in a French fine dining bistro in the CBD where he completed his qualifications to become a qualified chef.

Cam has also spent 5 years working in Canada, New Zealand and London. In this time he had many interesting experiences including living with a British celebrity chef, meeting his wife, and even cooking for former British Prime Minister David Cameron at his residence at 10 Downing St. A career highlight that he will always remember. Given Cameron’s extensive experience overseas and in international restaurants, he likes to incorporate these influences into the menu to give our residents a taste of food from all over the world.

“I enjoy continually updating the menu and including dishes from different origins of the world. This upcoming menu will feature ,more dishes from abroad (Asian and Middle Eastern for example) while also balancing our main demographic of European and Mediterranean residents”.

We asked Cameron about special events throughout the year that are related to food. He replied, “having a great relationship with the lifestyle team really helps when planning for special occasions. With Christmas only around the corner we have a few special events centered around that, then Australia Day will be the next on the calendar where we will host a BBQ for the residents”.

Finally we asked Cameron what his favourite part of the job is, Cameron smiles and says “The residents are the main reason that I am here. My favourite aspect of the job is talking with the residents and finding out about their background, culture and upbringing. I love getting their constructive feedback and suggestions on our meals. Hearing about what types of food they were brought up on and how they would gather for meal times throughout the year with family for special events and more traditional/religious times of the year”.

Our kitchen team at Embracia always encourage feedback and suggestions on the food and our menu. We love to hear about the meals that you particularly enjoy! You are also welcome to share a meal with your loved at any time for a small nominal fee. Just provide Catherine at reception a day’s notice for catering purposes, and she will happily organise this with the kitchen for you.

We provide exceptional aged care in an intimate community that feels like home.