Outside of Japara Balmoral Grove in Geelong, Victoria, Head Chef Supervisor Annette McCurdy might not quite be a household name.
But within the aged care facility’s four walls, she’s much loved for her warmth, her marvellous work ethic, incredibly high standards, outstanding leadership and – most importantly – commitment to those in her culinary care to do the best job she can for them.
For her ongoing skill, attitude and application, McCurdy has won an OSCARS Recognition of Excellence award from OSCAR Care Group.
The award is presented each fortnight and celebrates the amazing work of staff in the aged care, retirement living, childcare and hospitality industries across Australia.
McCurdy loves her role.
In the ‘60s she worked in Melbourne as a secretary in a law firm, but soon felt her calling to work with the elderly, and when an opportunity arose to work in a nursing home, she grabbed it with both hands.
Later she and husband Robert bought an aged care facility in Geelong which they ran together for 30 years, raising their two children, Aaron and Andrea, in the process.
After selling their business, McCurdy joined the team at Japara and this is her 10th year with the organisation.
During her time at Japara, the organisation has supported McCurdy in achieving her Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery which has led to her current position as Head Chef Supervisor.
She recognises how important food styles are to identity, and so regularly makes an effort to produce a range of cultural foods specific for residents’ backgrounds at Japara.
“My parents come from both Italian and Australian backgrounds, and this has influenced many of my culinary dishes,” she says.
So whether it’s making the fried, buttery snacks that one Dutch resident in particular adores, or serving rice with most meals for a grateful Indian resident, McCurdy regularly goes above and beyond.
While ensuring that meals cater to the varying tastes of residents, she also takes great care regarding their dietary requirements.
For example, she prepares meals for those who require texture modified diets according to IDDSI guidelines, while carefully ensuring allergens are also appropriately managed.
McCurdy also specially prepares gluten-free meals for those who need them.
“These residents deserve to receive the same menu as everyone else, so we provide them with the same meals, just prepared differently for their allergies.”
Doug Gillan, Regional Hospitality Manager at Japara, loves the care that McCurdy brings to her role.
“Annette always goes out of her way to help residents and staff with any catering concerns or special dietary requests that they have on a daily basis,” he says.
“For example, she developed a special vegetarian menu some time back which offers residents a really imaginative and tasty choice of vegetarian options at both lunch and dinner, which was really well received at Balmoral Grove.”
After 10 years with her team cooking for Japara Balmoral Grove’s 110 residents, McCurdy has made many work friends and values each of them.
She makes an effort to create an enjoyable and jovial vibe in the kitchen, humbly credits her workmates with continually motivating her excellent work ethos and relishes her role training new staff.
“We are only as good as the team!” she says, proudly.
- For coverage of all other OSCARS Recognition of Excellence award winners, click here.