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Interview with Food Services Coordinator Parween Ramsahye

Riding on the success of her national win at the Institute of Hospitality in Healthcare (IHHC) Awards and her promotion to Food Services Coordinator, Dove had a chat with Parween Ramsahye to find out more about the woman behind the food.

Where did your love of food come from?

My love of food came from my mum and cooking fish samosas always reminds me of her. Family always comes first and food brings everyone together.

What were your first impressions of working in aged care?

Truthfully, I found it challenging at first but I remember there was this one resident who greeted me with laughter. There’s always laughter in the kitchen.

Winning the Brightest Star award at the 2019 IHHC Awards and Conference must have been thrilling.

I was so nervous in the lead-up and I didn’t expect to win. I really enjoyed the conference and felt that nutrition and recycling were well represented. Plus I met lots of great people in the industry.

Prior to your new role as Food Services Coordinator, what did you love most about your role as Chef at Marist Lodge?

I love organising special events. I always brief the team on those with modified diets and on how the room’s to be set up. It’s important everyone knows what they’re doing, that there’s great communication and time management. I believe that when you share a meal we all become one.

What food trends have you noticed in aged care?

We now have more knowledge on food allergies whereas before we all lived with unknown allergies. We use more spices now so there’s extra flavour and palates have evolved. As we’ve become multicultural, we’re much more accepting of different cultures and traditions.

Any advice on cooking for the aged care industry?

We eat with our eyes and then our mouths, regardless of our age or background. Don’t over complicate things or hide them under sauce - let them see the ingredients. They enjoy seeing a nice roast coming out of the oven with garlic and rosemary. They prefer food they’re used to but if a dish is unfamiliar explain it to them and they’re usually more accepting.

Any other tips?

It’s important to remember that some residents may be living with dementia and might reject new foods. I let them participate and listen to their requests. It’s worth noting they might be living in a new environment, some might be in pain or they might be feeling alone. Sometimes they just want someone to sit with them and listen.

What are your aspirations at Catholic Homes?

I enjoy teaching others. It’s my quest to deliver with great happiness.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Eat and be happy, there’s nothing else.