When spending time eating with residents while onsite reviewing a meal service at a residential facility, I am often told the food is no good here.  My job is to find the Why?

Frequently the blame is pointed upstream to the Chef/Cook that they are hopeless in the kitchen, or even further back to supply – the quality is no good.

What I have found is there are a number of critical points where meal quality can be let down.

  1. Supply – do your suppliers respect your food quality benchmark, or deliver any old thing because they know you will accept it?
  2. Preparation – are the recipes ones your diners crave, love and have fond memories of?  Are you using ingredients familiar to them, their upbringing, their current taste buds? (Or what family, management, experts think you should be cooking)?
  3. Cooking – are you using methods to ensure flavour, taste, texture your residents in situ can manage?  Are you cooking to perfection when the food comes out of the oven, or considering the journey duration from oven to diner’s mouth?
  4. Hot holding – does the food maintain its integrity, nutritional value, look and taste from kitchen to diner?  Safety is important but not to the exclusion of quality.
  5. Serving – would your diners describe the meal before them as colourful and delicious looking?  Do staff value the food and the effort gone into producing the meal?
  6. Ambience – Are diners set up comfortably, able to manage the meal wherever they are, without feeling rushed or forgotten about? How often would they describe their meal as being a pleasant experience?
  7. To their schedule – is meal time fixed with fixed choice/s, allowing little leeway for grazing or eating at their optimal times?

Are you focussing on delivering a delicious, satisfying meal outcome with little tray and plate waste or ticking the compliance and safety boxes of a “nutritious, dietitian-approved menu” kept out of the temperature danger zone?

With a regular clientele with regular habits and consistent preferences, your menu offering does not have to be a “one size doesn’t really fit all but we will offer it anyway”.

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