Residents help plan menu

Jose Macolor longed for one of his favourite dishes.

Chicken adobo, which is marinated and braised in soy sauce, vinegar, crushed garlic, black peppercorns and bay leaf, was a dish he enjoyed while growing up in the Philippines. 

Jose shared his desire to eat Filipino food with staff at St.Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital in Edmonton during Cuisine Conversations, an initiative where residents talk about their favourite foods and participate in planning sessions to build their dining menu.

“I wanted to see if I could have the chicken cooked the way I remember my family had always prepared it at home,” says Jose, who has called St. Joseph’s home for three years.

He got his wish when staff held a Taste of the Philippines dinner for residents. The Taste of Italy was the first themed food night and was held a few months earlier.

The idea behind the Filipino-themed dinner came from Cuisine Conversations, launched recently by the hospitality staff at St. Joseph’s in Edmonton and Youville Home in St. Albert. People often miss the food from their childhood or homeland, says Alana Charron, hospitality manager for St. Joseph's Auxiliary and Youville Home. While it’s a challenge to address everyone’s food preference, staff wanted to provide a fun and varied dinner experience for residents.

“While we can’t always prepare Filipino food or any specific cuisine often, we always try to find a creative solution to address the dietary and food preferences of our seniors,” says Alana.

Cuisine Conversations provides an ideal opportunity to gather ideas on how to build a responsive menu, says Alana. “This is a good way to make sure that residents and family members are involved in the menu planning process.”

Jose Macolor enjoyed the Filipino food prepared by staff at a recent culture-themed dinner for all residents of St. Joseph's Auxiliary Hospital (Photos courtesy of Susan Nicoll).

During these monthly conversations, residents and family members provide input on menu offerings, including special events such as Christmas, says Alana.

“We change the menu every six months and we try our best to try to adjust and customize it based on the needs and preferences of the residents.”

Alana says some family members are experienced cooks who provide feedback about food that will work well for the residents on a regular basis, as well as during special events such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.

“We made a commitment to include residents and their families to build a menu that suits their needs. We want to give them a choice because honouring choice is a big part of living our values.”

The Taste of the Philippines dinner at St. Joseph's had all the touches of a tropical island vibe—decorations, music and more. The residents and their families, who bought tickets to the event, enjoyed a helping of pansit (rice noodles), lumpia (spring rolls) and of course, chicken adobo and mango cake dessert.

Jose says he liked not only the food, but also the fellowship. “I enjoyed socializing and talking with the people in my table. And my fellow residents loved the food as well.”

Jose says he can’t wait till the next theme-based dinner at St. Joseph's. “A lot of the residents here come from different parts of the world. And so I look forward to trying food from a different country next time.”

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