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.