Rest home chef dishes de­lights to res­i­dents


The thought of rest home food doesn’t usu­ally con­jure the most de­li­cious images but a Porirua chef is de­ter­mined to change that.

Jer­son Lat said rest home res­i­dents de­served to feel like fine din­ers at ev­ery meal and he led by ex­am­ple, dish­ing up res­tau­rant qual­ity food.

‘‘All the food should taste de­li­cious but it should also be pre­sented like a present or a gift,’’ the 34 year old said.

‘‘All the res­i­dents de­serve it, they should have nice things to eat.’’

Lat is head chef at Har­bourview Rest Home in Porirua, the same place he be­gan his ca­reer as a dish­washer when he and his fam­ily ar­rived from the Philip­pines in 2008.

‘‘I have a com­merce de­gree but I was happy to do any work. When the real chef was sick they asked me to start learn­ing to cook...I loved it.’’

He al­ready held a com­merce de­gree but re­trained as a chef and cooked in some of Welling­ton’s most iconic kitchens be­fore a new baby made him re­view his work­ing hours.

‘‘I need to have a good fam­ily so I de­cided to move to a rest home again. Luck­ily at the time Har­bourView was look­ing for a chef and they said ‘‘wel­come home.’’"

Lat came sec­ond at the New Zealand Chefs Na­tional in July, a com­pe­ti­tion to en­cour­age ex­cel­lence in rest home cook­ing.

‘Even with cheaper in­gre­di­ents you can make food that tastes beau­ti­ful and looks beau­ti­ful too.’’

‘‘In my cul­ture we treat our el­ders very well and I love be­ing with them and lis­ten­ing to them.’’

Birth­day cakes and old fash­ioned favourite dishes with a mod­ern twist were some of the things Lat used to spoil the home’s 60 res­i­dents.

‘‘Most old peo­ple like bread and but­ter pud­ding but I just put some berries and choco­late in it and serve it nicely.

‘‘In­stead of mak­ing casse­role I like to make ragouts.’’

Har­bourview care home man­ager Erin McG­lynn said Lat’s pas­sion was in­spir­ing.

‘‘He’s such a gen­tle, re­spect­ful man. He sings songs to the res­i­dents and en­gages with them when he’s dish­ing out the meals...we’re very lucky to have him.’’

She said his care for his el­derly clients was ob­vi­ous.

‘‘He’s just lovely...ev­ery­body wants to steal him.’’


Jer­son Lat says rest home res­i­dents should feel like they’re din­ing in a fine res­tau­rant.

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