Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2013 Contents HammondCare, spans 30 years and well
beyond the Windsor Castle kitchen. Not
only has he catered Buckingham Palace
garden parties with 8,000 guests, he has
managed 120 chefs on-site at Wimbledon
Tennis Championships and worked in
Wales, Germany, Papua New Guinea,
London and even Bermuda.
"Cheffing wasn't glamorous in those
days but it is now," says the chef who
initially wanted to be a laboratory
office technician and pursue his love of
chemistry but went to hospitality school
at age 18 instead. "It's really hard work
but being a chef has been amazing for me.
It was like paradise, cooking for the really,
really rich. In Bermuda, they'd come off
their yachts [to dine at] the pontoon and
then sail off into the sunset."
Hammondcare's top chef has also
cooked alongside some of Australia's
best known chefs since he arrived in the
country at age 28 around 24 years ago.
He's worked at Bennelong at the Opera
House, the Art Gallery of NSW, Gay
Bilson's Berowra Water's Inn and the
three-hat MG Garage with Janni Kyritsis.
He's run his own one-hat restaurant
at Surry Hills' Clock Hotel and even
taught past Masterchef contestants
Now, Morgan-Jones is the face of
the HammondCare kitchen and food
service for people with dementia. In
January 2012, he took on the position
of executive chef with the organisation
to cook with staff and residents in two
central kitchens and up to 29 domestic-
sized cottage kitchens.
So how did this food master end up in
aged care, cooking for older Australians
living with dementia? After all, like it
or fight it, it is a sector with a public
reputation for serving below-par meals.
Morgan-Jones says he fortuitously
came across the HammondCare
job advertisement when placing an
advertisement for a head chef for his
then-employer, the Trippas White Group.
"I looked at the job and thought,
'wow, how good would that be to give
something back to people and make
someone's life different, just by giving
good, nutritious food? It was like I had
"So I talked to my wife. She said, it
sounds really interesting. And I haven't
looked back. It's been amazing."
COOKING AND CARING
To say that this respected chef glided
into his new position without any effort
would be incorrect. The aged care
learning curve, he says, was steep
"I arrived at HammondCare all green
with no experience in aged care...I was a
bit overwhelmed in the first two weeks.
There was a lot to absorb -- heavy things.
Then one of the managers said to me,
'Can you feed Bob over there? So I went
over and fed Bob. I looked into his eyes
and he looked into my eyes. That's all I
needed. There was this thing going on
and I realised, 'this is amazing. You can't
do this in restaurants."
Keen to learn as much as he could
about how to improve residents' lives
through food, Morgan-Jones dived into the
dementia care challenge. He completed
a certificate IV in dementia, attended
Dementia Design School sessions
(annually) and seizes most educational
experiences that pass his way.
"Your duty of care doesn't just stop
once you cook the food...It's everyone's
duty to learn more about the person they
are looking after."
Caring about residents, Morgan-Jones
says, is an important role of the aged care
chef. For without it, he would be unable
to ensure his current diners experience
the pleasure that quality dining and food
"My head is exploding with ideas about
what I can do. The job is challenging and
rewarding just because there's so much
you can do."
For example, he explains, there was
once a resident who was losing weight
because she wouldn't eat much. Thanks to
Morgan-Jones and the staff, she is now on
a tried and tested finger food diet which is
The seasoned chef now is also "heavily
into research and development", using
molecular gastronomy techniques
to make texture-modified foods for
residents to enjoy.
"I'm playing around using cream
whippers and nitrous oxide." He is
also developing his own moulds and
experimenting with agar (seaweed) to
encourage people with disphasia to eat.
WALKING THE TALK
Morgan-Jones works with dietitians
to make his diners' food journeys an
engaging experience; he is co-writing
a book about cooking for people
with dementia, and delivers guest
lectures on food and dementia at
"As a chef in aged care, the hours
are better and it's a better environment
to work in. And the job is rewarding
because you know you are 'giving'...
In restaurants, we feed someone's ego.
Here we are feeding for necessity. It's
just pure essence.
"Chefs should get out there and talk
with residents and eat their own meals
with them. I think if they do that, they'd
have a bit of a shock. I do that every
day. I have lunch with and even feed
residents. I wonder how many chefs
feed residents? That's the thing that will
actually make you have an epiphany --
when you are in high care feeding an
older person. You'll think 'wow, this is
what it's all about'."
Morgan-Jones insists that despite the
satisfaction his job provides him, it does
take a certain type of chef to work in aged
care; to forgo the glamour and seek the
internal rewards that come with doing
"They would have to leave their
chef ego in the restaurant and kitchen,
and have compassion for older people,
before they can even consider the move
to aged care.
"But to me, the biggest reward is
that you can get so much more out of
cooking in this environment than you
ever do in a restaurant or hotel. The
rewards are endless." n
AAA: WHERE DID YOUR LOVE OF FOOD COME FROM?
PM-J: I grew up on a coastal seaside town in north-Wales. I had a passion for
food back then. We used to have fresh produce in the garden like crab apples,
pears, gooseberries and rhubarb -- a whole plethora of produce.
My mum wasn't a good cook but my aunty was a great cook. When I was
about eight years old [under her instruction], I entered an eisteddfod and baked
an apple pie. I won and beat all the older country women...They weren't so
impressed with this little pipsqueak beating them.
AAA: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG
PM-J: You need to be very time-focused. Everything's on a deadline. I'm
constantly checking the watch and multitasking. What I've learnt with experience
is that you need a lot of patience and understanding. And good communication
skills are important.
You need to open up communication channels to talk and make sure you
have orders standing on how to reach your goals...That's all very important, as is
technical ability and a passion for food.
AAA: HOW IMPORTANT IS FOOD SERVICE IN THE
PM-J: Delivery is really an important thing. In serving and liaison, waiters in
restaurants are your hands. So in aged care, that means not slamming down
the plate, not having the radio blaring in the background and ensuring you are
mindful of the customer's dining experience.
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